President Joe Biden Thursday morning announced the United States has arranged for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, held for months by Russia and recently sent to a prison work camp, known as a penal colony or “gulag.”
“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones,” President Biden said, with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, by his side.
“Moments ago, standing together with her wife Cherelle in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner,” President Biden told Americans. “She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances. Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”
After President Biden’s remarks, Cherelle Griner spoke, saying, “Today my family is whole.”
“Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there are so many other families who are not whole,” Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, says after her release from Russian detention https://t.co/SxnOf9QXfn pic.twitter.com/nBpd1HFnUV
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 8, 2022
Biden noted that Griner had written to him, saying she asked for no special treatment, just to remember her and other prisoners, including Paul Whelan.
“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who’s been unjustly detained in Russia for years,” Biden said during his remarks Thursday morning. Whelan, a former Marine, is accused of spying by Russia.
The President complimented Griner, saying she has shown “grit” and “dignity,” and “represents the best about America.”
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) December 8, 2022
Griner was arrested in Russia on smuggling charges in February.
The U.S. State Dept. in May announced Griner had been “wrongfully detained,” and stepped up efforts to get her released.
The Biden administration traded Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in what CNBC called “one of the most high-profile prisoner swaps between Moscow and Washington since the Cold War.”
Over the summer Donald Trump, siding with Russia, strongly suggested he would not have worked to get Griner released. The disgraced ex-president called the WNBA star and Olympic gold medal winner “spoiled,” and wrongly claimed she had entered Russia “loaded up with drugs.”
Watch videos of President Biden’s and Cherelle Griner’s remarks above, his full remarks below, or at this link:
WATCH: Complete remarks from President Biden on release of Brittney Griner from Russia. pic.twitter.com/QaG41PCarG
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 8, 2022