Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who was held for months in Russian prisons on drug charges, was released today.
The one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout, negotiated with Moscow in recent weeks, was given final approval by President Biden, according to sources familiar with the deal.
The swap, first reported by CBS News, took place on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates.
Five former U.S. officials told CBS that the agreement had been reached as of last Thursday.
A White House official said the president spoke to Griner by phone. The call happened in the Oval Office, where the president was joined by Cherelle Griner, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The White House held off reporting the swap because officials expressed grave concern about the fragility of deal.
Administration officials warned that making details of the swap public beforehand would almost certainly lead Russia to pull out of the agreement and potentially endanger Griner’s well-being.
Per standard procedure for freed U.S. prisoners, Griner is expected to quickly undergo a medical evaluation.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT