White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says President Joe Biden "kept his promise" to bring home WNBA star Britney Greener.
Watch the conference call in the player above.
"Today he fulfilled a very important promise to bring Britney Griner home, to a family that loves her, to a team that misses her, and to a country that admires her strength and courage," Jean said. – Rock.
He went on to say that Britney's safe return "was the result of months and months of painstaking negotiations that were the culmination of extraordinary efforts by the United States government."
Russia released Griner on Thursday in a high-profile prisoner swap after the United States freed notorious Russian arms dealer Victor Bowe but failed to secure the release of another American, Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned for nearly four years.
Biden's support for the release of Bout, the Russian criminal once dubbed the "merchant of death," underscored the growing urgency his administration faced to bring Griner home, especially after his recent drug conviction and his subsequent transfer to prison. strict diet. .
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Griner, who also plays professional basketball in Russia, was arrested last February at an airport for smuggling less than a gram of cannabis oil into the country in e-cigarette cartridges.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the exchange, saying in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that the exchange took place in Abu Dhabi and that Bout had returned home.
Biden spoke with Griner at Abu Dhabi airport after meeting with US officials. Biden said he was expected to return to the United States within 24 hours. US officials said he would be offered specialist medical services and consultations, but declined to provide further details, citing confidentiality concerns.
Russian and US officials have expressed cautious optimism in recent weeks after months of tense negotiations, with Biden saying in November that he hoped Russia would reach a deal after the deadline. Last week, a senior Russian official said a deal was possible before the end of the year.