Brittney Griner is coming home. The WNBA star has been released from a Russian penal colony as part of a prisoner swap orchestrated by the Biden administration and was on her way back to the United States on Thursday, according to administration officials.
Russia received convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner. Negotiations for an exchange that also included Paul Whelan, an ex-U.S. Marine convicted of spying in Russia, fizzled and the Russians would only agree to exchange Griner for Bout, according to media reports.
Griner was arrested for possession of illegal hash oil vape cartridges in Moscow more than nine months ago. She was tried and convicted in August after pleading guilty and sentenced to nine years imprisonment. The two-time Olympic gold medalist began serving her sentence last month in a Russian penal colony about 200 miles east of Moscow.
U.S. officials had been working on a prisoner exchange deal with Russia for months, according to the Biden administration, which briefed media on the prisoner exchange. A deal was struck last week and the exchange executed on Thursday.
Russian customs agents arrested the seven-time WNBA all-star on Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport, just days before Russia launched its invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Customs officials said they found cannabis oil vape cartridges in Griner’s belongings. Cannabis is classified as an illegal narcotic in Russia.
Griner was able to confer with U.S. officials shortly after her arrest but had been isolated from contact with the outside world for months before her releaseAdvertisement
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, “was in the Oval Office with Biden on Thursday morning and the two were able to speak with her by phone,” NBC News reported.
Cannaconvo with Peter Su of Green Check Verified
Cannabis Last Week with Jon Purow interviews Peter Su of Green Check Verified. Peter Su is a Senior Vice President with Green Check Verified, the top cannabis banking compliance software/consultancy in the space. A 20+ year veteran of the banking industry, Peter serves on the Banking & Financial Services committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He chairs the Banking and Financial Services Committee for the NYCCIA & HVCIA. He is an official member of the Rolling Stone Cannabis Culture Council. And, he is on the board of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, serving as treasurer.
The Global Cannabis Times Interview with Raj Grover, Part 2
The Global Cannabis Times Interview with Raj Grover, Part 1
Japan Legalizes Medical Cannabis Products, Tightens Drug Laws
MJBizCon Speakers Focus on the Challenges, Provide a Glimmer of Hope
Germany Sets 2024 for Cannabis Legalization, Eases Regulations
How Do Cannabis Pros Balance Work and Life?
Leadership, Empathy, and a Noble Cause
The Global Cannabis Times Interview with Kristi Palmer, Kiva Confections Co-Founder
Investment in the European Cannabis Industry with William Muecke & Daniel Grözinger
The first cannabis flower prescription on the NHS with Mike Roberts