American basketball star Brittney Griner has been freed in a prisoner exchange, a US official has said.
She was imprisoned in Russia after her conviction in August and sentenced to nine years in prison.
Ms Griner was detained in February when customs officers said they found vape boxes containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
She was released in exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was known as “The Merchant of Death”.
President Joe Biden said he spoke to Ms Griner and that she was “safe” and “on her way home”.
She will be taken to a medical facility in San Antonio, Texas, where she will also meet her wife, Cherelle.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the exchange took place at Abu Dhabi airport.
The ministry said in a statement: “Russian citizens have been returned to their homeland.”
Who is Viktor Bout?
For nearly two decades, Bout was one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers, selling weapons to rogue nations, rebel groups and murderous warlords in Africa, Asia, and South America. .
Ever since he was captured in a complicated US operation, the Russian state has been keen to bring him back.
Biden’s approval of Bout’s release underscores the escalating pressure his administration faces to arrest Griner, especially after the recent settlement of her criminal case and the criminal case. hers. then moved to a penal colony.