Biden says Brittney Griner in “good spirits,” vows to maintain working for Paul Whelan’s launch


Washington — President Biden stated WNBA star Brittney Griner is in “good spirits” and heading residence after the U.S. secured her launch Thursday in a unprecedented one-for-one prisoner swap for worldwide arms vendor Viktor Bout.

“She’s safe. She’s on a plane,” Mr. Biden stated briefly remarks on the White House Friday morning. “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. This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release.” 

Mr. Biden spoke to Griner on the cellphone from the Oval Office Friday morning, together with Griner’s spouse, Cherelle. 

The swap, first reported by CBS News, happened Thursday within the United Arab Emirates. Five former U.S. officers advised CBS News the settlement had been reached as of every week in the past.

Griner was detained at a Russian airport in February and later pleaded responsible to expenses stemming from the invention of cannabis-derived oil cartridges in her baggage.

Mr. Biden additionally stated the U.S. would proceed to work for the discharge of Paul Whelan, the retired Marine who has been in Russian custody since 2018. The president stated the prisoner swap for Griner “was not a choice of which American to bring home.”

“We have not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for years,” Mr. Biden stated. “This was not a choice of which American to bring home. We brought home Trevor Reed when we had a chance earlier this year. Sadly, for illegitimate reasons, Russia has treated Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we have not given up. We will never give up. We remain in close touch with Paul’s family, the Whelan family, and my thoughts and prayers are with them today. They have to have such mixed emotions today.” 

David Whelan, Paul’s brother, stated in a press release that the household was “so glad that Brittney Griner is on her way home,” however expressed frustration that Paul remained imprisoned. 

“Despite the possibility that there might be an exchange without Paul, our family is still devastated,” David Whelan stated. “I can’t even fathom how Paul will feel when he learns. Paul has worked so hard to survive nearly 4 years of this injustice. His hopes had soared with the knowledge that the US government was taking concrete steps for once towards his release. He’d been worrying about where he’d live when he got back to the US.”

Speaking after Mr. Biden, Cherelle Griner thanked authorities officers for his or her work in bringing her spouse residence, saying her imprisonment had been “one of the darkest moments of my life.” 

“Today my family is whole. But as you all are aware, there are so many other families that are not whole,” she stated, including that she’ll “remain committed” to bringing all Americans residence, together with Whelan. 


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