Basketball star Brittney Griner has returned to Texas, where she was born and raised, ten months after departing for Russia.
Griner, who was imprisoned in February for possessing cannabis oil at a Moscow airport, was on Thursday swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
She was transported by air to San Antonio, where she will get medical attention.
John Kirby from the White House said on MSNBC on Friday that Griner is “in good spirits” and “in good health.”
On Thursday, Griner’s return to his home country was initially revealed by President Joe Biden. She was anticipating meeting up with her wife, Cherelle Griner, who was at Mr. Biden’s announcement at the White House.
In a statement regarding her return, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said: “Brittney has had to endure an unfathomable scenario and we’re delighted that she is on her way home to her family and friends.”
Just a few days before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Griner was taken into custody.
She is one of the most well-known athletes in the country. The two-time Olympic champion played centre for Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA during the US basketball season.
She travelled to Moscow in order to play in Russia during the US off-season. She claimed that the cannabis oil discovered in her purse had been an “honest mistake” during her trial in Russia.
Being aware that Moscow has long demanded the release of Bout, a convicted arms dealer known as the ’Merchant of Death’, the Biden administration proposed a prisoner exchange in July. He has spent the last 12 years imprisoned in the United States.
They may be seen traversing the tarmac with their respective teams in footage on Russian official TV. The 6′ 9″ (206 cm) Griner can be seen seeing Bout being received by two Russian officials in the video, which appears to have been given by Russian security services. Before showing the two parties parting ways, a portion of the swap was taken out.
The Moscow foreign ministry issued a statement saying, “The Russian citizen has been restored to his hometown.”
Bout’s arrival in Moscow was broadcast live in Russia. He was captured on camera hugging his wife and mother on the tarmac of the airport.
He told reporters at the airport: “I made it. That’s the key thing. They simply woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to ’get your things together,’ he said.
According to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Griner, who turned 32 in October, will be welcomed to the city with a light display.
Roger D. Carstens, the US special representative for hostage situations, wished Griner many happy returns in a tweet. He said, “So glad to have Brittney back on US soil.”