WNBA Star Brittney Griner Freed In Prisoner Swap With Russian Arms Dealer Dubbed The ‘Merchant of Death’

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

8 Dec 2022

WNBA star Britney Griner, who was held for months in Russian prisons on drug charges, was released Thursday in a one-for-one prisoner trade for international arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for possessing cannabis oil and last month sent to a penal colony.

US president JoeBiden wrote on Twitter on Thursday he had spoken with Griner. “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home,” he said, along with photos of the basketball player’s wife Cherelle Griner in the Oval Office.

Cherelle Griner, thanked Biden and members of his administration for their work to free her wife.

“Today my family is whole,” she said. “BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home.”

Dubbed the ‘Merchant of death’, Bout’s reputation as one of the world’s most wanted men for selling arms to warlords and rogue governments, came to an end following a US sting in 2008.

President Biden signed the order for Bout’s release, commuting his 25-year federal prison sentence.

Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed the trade and said it had taken place at Abu Dhabi airport. “The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland,” it said in a statement.