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Brittney Griner Exchanged for Russian Arms Dealer; Paul Whelan Still in Russian Custody

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

WASHINGTON DC, December 8, 2022 ~ President Joe Biden announced that WNBA Basketball Player Brittney Griner has been released from Russian captivity in exchange for the “Merchant of Death,” Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” said Biden at the White House Thursday, accompanied by Griner’s wife Cherelle. “After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under untolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”


December 9, 2022 ~ Detroit Crime Commission Executive Director Andy Arena, talks with Kevin and Tom about how deals like Brittney Griner‘s Russian prison release get done.

December 9, 2022 ~ 760 WJR Senior News Analyst Chris Renwick tells Paul W. that Brittney Griner is back in the United States after President Joe Biden authorized a prisoner swap for one of the most dangerous arms dealers in the world. Meanwhile, Novi‘s Paul Whelan still sits in a Russian prison. Photo: Jasen Vinlove / USA Today

(CONTINUED) In July 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the Biden Administration proposed the release of both US Marine and former Michigan Police Officer Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, in a then-unknown deal.

This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” Biden said. “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.”

Paul Whelan has been held in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges, and in 2020 was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison, where he remains.