Photo by: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
Brittney Griner has been freed from a Russian prison Thursday, according to the White House.
Alongside Griner’s wife, Cherelle and Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden announced this morning that the WNBA star is now safe, on a plane and on her way home after 294 days in captivity.
She was released in a 1-for-1 prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along,” Biden said.
Millions are celebrating the news, which was the culmination of months of negotiations for the Biden administration.
“This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release,” Biden said.
Cherelle Griner, who has advocated for BG’s safe return for 9 months, praised the government for assisting in securing her wife’s release and expressed her gratitude.
“Over the last 9 months you have been so privy to one of the darkest moments of my life and so today I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions but the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration.”
She continued, “[Both Brittney and I] will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today.”
Paul Whelan, another American who the State Department has deemed to have been illegally detained, was not included in the exchange.
While Whelan was still behind bars, Biden noted that his family, “have to have such mixed emotions today.”
“This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” Biden said. “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.”
#WeAreBG became a movement over the last year following her arrest and now there is only relief among those who love her and fans across the world.
Join us in celebrating that Brittney Griner’s released and that she is finally heading home!
Please join us as we welcome Brittney Griner home!