Russia releases American basketball player Brittney Griner in exchange for arms dealer, Viktor Bout

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The 32-year-old basketball player was freed on Thursday as part of a prisoner swap involving Viktor Bout, a global arms dealer.

US President Joe Biden reportedly gave his final approval to the deal within the past week, CBS first reported, and took place on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates. “She is safe. She is on a plane.

She is on her way home,” said Mr Biden in a tweet confirming her release, adding later during an address that she was in “good spirits”.

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Griner was detained at a Russian airport in February and later pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the discovery of cannabis-derived oil cartridges in her luggage.   

After five months of stalled diplomacy and various permutations of potential swap arrangements — including a previously unreported offer by the U.S. this past summer to send two prisoners back to Russia for the two Americans — sources say the one-for-one exchange came together over the last two weeks. 

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