Accessibility links

Breaking News

Griner Goes Free

FILE: Imprisoned arms dealer Viktor Bout (Left) and imprisoned U.S. basketball star Brittany Griner (Right). . The United States and Russia swapped these two people, freeing both from behind bars. Images August 13, 2022

Moscow confirmed Thursday it had exchanged US basketball star Brittney Griner, who had been jailed in Russia, for notorious arms trafficker Victor Bout who was serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.

"On December 8, 2022, at the Abu Dhabi airport, the exchange of Russian citizen Viktor Bout for US citizen Brittney Griner... was successfully completed," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that US women's basketball star Brittney Griner is "on her way home" after being freed from Russia in a prisoner swap.

"She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home," he tweeted.

Biden said Thursday that the United Arab Emirates facilitated Brittney Griner's release from Russia.

Biden thanked the UAE "for helping us facilitate Brittney's return, because that's where she landed" en route back to the United States. Biden said the basketball star would be back home within 24 hours.

In August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony on drugs charges following her arrest at a Moscow airport in February with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

She was moved from a detention center near Moscow on Nov. 4. when she was taken to Female Penal Colony IK-2 in Yavas, about 500 km southeast of Moscow.

Bout was convicted by a U.S. federal jury on counts that he conspired to murder U.S. officials and citizens, furnishing anti-aircraft missiles, and aiding a terrorist organization. He was imprisoned from June 2012 until today's exchange in Abu Dhabi.

This report was compiled from data from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.