WNBA star Brittney Griner has landed safely on American soil following the prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia.
According to the Associated Press, Griner was seen getting off a plane at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas on Friday (December 9).
“So happy to have Brittney back on U.S. soil. Welcome home BG!” tweeted Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.
News of the basketball star's safe return comes after the Biden administration confirmed Thursday (December 8) that Griner was coming home through a 1-for-1 prison swap involving Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer nicknamed the "Merchant of Death." The U.S. was unable to win freedom for former U.S. marine Paul Whelan, who has been jailed in Russia for nearly four years.
When asked if more prisoner swaps were on the table, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that “everything is possible,” noting that “compromises" were found to clear the way for Thursday’s exchange.
Griner was first detained in Russia on February 17, when authorities found cannabis oil in her bag at a Moscow airport. She plead guilty to drug charges after admitting she "inadvertently" brought cannabis into the country and was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the swap occurred on Thursday, saying Bout had been flown home after an exchange in Abu Dhabi.
Biden spoke with Griner on the phone. According to U.S. officials, the basketball pro will be offered specialized medical services and counseling upon her return.