Who is Brittney Griner, the American released for arms dealer Viktor Bout?

WNBA star released from Russian penal colony in exchange for the 'Merchant of Death'

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Brittney Griner, the US basketball star who was imprisoned in Russia on drug charges, is on her way home via Abu Dhabi.

Griner’s release comes 10 months after customs officials found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

She had been sentenced to more than nine years in prison and was serving her sentence in a remote penal colony.

Who is Brittney Griner?

Griner's arrest in February sent shock waves throughout the US sports landscape, including the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).

The 2-metre-tall centre was a star player at Baylor University in Texas and her professional career equalled her sterling college years.

She is an eight time all-star, two-time scoring leader and won a team championship with the Phoenix Mercury in 2014.

In addition to her professional career, she won two Olympic gold medals with the US women’s national team in 2016 and 2021.

Griner often spent the WNBA off-season playing abroad in China and Russia. She was on her way to play in the Russian Women's Basketball Premier League when she was detained.

What happened when was she released?

After months of negotiations, the administration of President Joe Biden secured her release in exchange for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in the US.

Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner said her family is once again complete.

“Today my family is whole. But as you all are aware, there's so many other families who are not whole,” Ms Griner said.

The sports world applauded the Biden administration for bringing Griner home.

“As her USA Basketball family, we are grateful for the work of the US government and everyone who has worked behind the scenes to achieve this outcome,” USA Basketball said in a statement.

Sue Bird, one of basketball's all-time greats, tweeted “BG is free” with a heart emoji.

Updated: December 09, 2022, 5:59 AM