(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. has swapped WNBA star Brittney Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to a senior U.S. official.
The basketball star was taken into custody at a Moscow area airport earlier this year in possession of vaping cartridges containing hashish oil, an illegal substance in Russia.
Griner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Dec 08, 8:34 AM EST
Who is Viktor Bout?
Griner has been swapped for the convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to a senior U.S. official.
Bout was arguably the world’s best-known illegal arms trafficker and his capture in 2008 at a hotel in Thailand came at the end of a nearly decade-long hunt by the U.S.
Bout, 55, emerged as a kingpin in the global illegal arms trade during the 1990s, accused of fueling some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts, particularly in Africa. Sourcing weapons from the huge stockpiles of the collapsed Soviet Union, the Russian used a fleet of Soviet-built transport aircraft to supply vast quantities of arm, often circumventing international embargoes.
Dec 08, 8:27 AM EST
Biden speaks to Griner aboard plane
President Joe Biden shared a photo of himself talking on the phone to Brittney Griner from the White House, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, saying she was on a plane, safe and headed home.
He is also shown hugging Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
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