Brittney Griner back on American soil after spending 294 days in Russian prison
Brittney Griner has landed on American soil for the first time in 10 months after being released from Russian custody in a prisoner swap deal with ‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout.
The WNBA star arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio early Friday morning, where she will be examined and receive any necessary medical treatment.
Footage showed Ms Griner and Bout being swapped on the tarmac of a track in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, after weeks of negotiations between Washington and Moscow.
The deal did not include US Marine Paul Whelan who has been detained in Russia for four years. Mr Whelan told CNN he was “very disappointed” to learn he was not part of the prisoner swap, saying: “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
President Joe Biden insisted on Thursday that “we have not forgotten about Paul Whelan” and vowed to “never give up” on securing his release as the swap has divided opinion across the country. The White House was also forced to deny claims by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that MBS brokered the deal.
Congressman Troy Nehls says Trump will bring Paul Whelan home ‘in a week’ despite the former president’s failure to secure his release
Congressman Troy Nehls told Newsmax that former President Donald Trump will have Paul Whelan home “within a week” despite the former president’s failure to secure his release while in office.
During an appearance on Newsmax, Mr Nehls said Joe Biden should call Mr Trump and ask him to negotiate Mr Whelan’s release.
“You want to bring Paul Whelan home, Joe Biden, why don’t you call Donald Trump. Donald Trump would negotiate; he would bring Paul Whelan home and he would bring him home in a week,” the member said. of Congress.
Mr. Whelan was detained and convicted during Mr. Trump’s presidency, and Mr. Trump was unsuccessful in securing the man’s release. Russia offered the Trump administration a trade for Mr Whelan, but Trump officials declined the offer.
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 8:45 p.m.
US national security spokesperson says officials are still working to secure the release of Paul Whelan
On Friday, US national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters that officials were continuing to work to secure the release of Paul Whelan, and an American detained in Russia in 2018 on charges of espionage.
Mr Whelan became a talking point after former WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from Russian custody. Widely conservative critics of the prisoner swap that freed both Griner and notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout complained Mr Whelan was not included in the deal.
“We will actively work through [Moscow] channels to try and get Paul home,” Mr. Kirby told reporters.
According to White House officials, negotiators tried to include Mr Whelan in the exchange, but Moscow rejected the offer.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that future prisoner swaps were “possible”, but Mr Kirby said “deeds, not words” are what matter.
“We recorded what Mr. Putin said, let’s see what he actually does,” Mr. Kirby said.
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 8:20 p.m.
White House press secretary says Brittney Griner reunited with wife, appears to be in good health
Former WNBA star Brittney Griner has been reunited with his wife, Cherelle, according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Griner returned to the United States on Friday after being released from Russian custody through a prisoner exchange brokered by US officials. International arms dealer Viktor Bout has been commercially released from US custody.
Ms Jean-Pierre said Griner was in “very good spirits” upon his return and appeared to be “in good health”.
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 7:52 p.m.
Brittney Griner cut her hair while locked up in Russia because her locks froze
Former WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was freed this week in a prisoner exchange deal the United States reached with Russia, reportedly cut her hair while imprisoned because she was freezing on her head.
Maria Blagovolina, one of Griner’s attorneys, said ESPN that Griner cut his hair about two weeks ago after it started freezing due to the cold Russian winter.
“It’s very cold in there and every time she washed her hair she was cold and shivering,” Ms Blagovolina said. “She should have waited until New Year’s Day.”
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 7:31 p.m.
Russians did not negotiate ‘in good faith’ for Paul Whelan, says White House press secretary
On Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Russia was unwilling to engage in “good faith” negotiations to free Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in the country since 2018. US officials tried to include Mr Whelan in a prisoner swap deal they struck to free former WNBA star Brittney Griner, but no deal could be reached.
“Over the past two weeks we have seen the Russians ready to release Brittney Griner for Mr. Bout. This is what was presented to us. They were unwilling to negotiate in good faith for Paul Whelan.
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 7:03 p.m.
Russia offered Paul Whelan as part of the Brittney Griner trade, but asked for a spy serving a life sentence for murder
US officials speaking with CNN told the outlet that Russia offered Paul Whelan as part of the prisoner swap deal that freed former WNBA star Brittney Griner, but only if a Russian spy serving a life sentence in Germany for murder was released with the “Merchant”. of death” Viktor Bout.
The United States has asked Germany about the possibility of releasing Vadim Krasikov, the Russian spy convicted of murder. The United States was unable to negotiate the Russian’s release. However, according to officials, the United States offered other imprisoned Russians in an attempt to free Mr Whelan, but these offers were rejected by Russia.
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 6:46 p.m.
Tucker Carlson baselessly claims Biden chose to save Griner and not Paul Whelan due to identity politics
On a Fox News show, host Tucker Carlson claimed, without evidence, that NBC News had suppressed a report he published that initially said Russia gave the United States the opportunity to free Brittney Griner. or Paul Whelan. He claims the network did this at the behest of the Biden administration, again without a shred of evidence.
“Why did they make this choice? You should know that Whalen is a Trump voter and he made the mistake of saying that on social media, and he’s paying the price now,” Carlson said. “Brittany Griner is not. She has a very different policy.
According to Carlson, Griner was chosen because Mr. Whelan is a Trump voter and Griner is black, female and lesbian.
Russia – which has no incentive to protect Joe Biden’s image – has issued no statement undermining the White House’s claim that Mr Whelan was never on the table for a possible money swap. prisoners.
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 5:57 p.m.
Full message from Steph Curry’s Brittney Griner at the SI Sportsperson of the Year awards
NBA star Steph Curry won Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award at a ceremony on Thursday, and during his acceptance speech he spoke about the former star’s release from WNBA, Brittney Griner.
Mr. Curry was a major attorney for Griner while she was in prison.
“We’re happy she’s home, we’re happy she’s reunited with her family,” Mr Curry said. “This is a constant reminder for everyone who continues to use their platforms to talk about important issues and can move the needle. Thank you to President Biden’s administration for being part of this fight. But , it is also a reminder that we must all remain engaged in the fight to protect American citizens at home and abroad who are wrongfully detained, and we can continue to engage in that fight. We appreciate your sacrifice, perseverance, and patience in going through this process, and hope you enjoy being reunited with your family. We are always with you, BG.
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 5:25 p.m.
Viktor Bout, ‘dealer of death’, says the West wants Russia to collapse
Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer, was released this week in a prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia for former WNBA star Brittney Griner. After his release, he shared his views on his captors with Russian media, according to The Associated Press.
“The West thinks it failed to finish us off when the Soviet Union started to crumble,” Bout said. “And our efforts to live independently, to be an independent power comes as a shock to them.”
Russian state media welcomed Bout’s return.
“Everyone will forget about Griner tomorrow,” Yevgeny Popov, a Russian state media host, wrote on Telegram on Thursday. “Bout’s life is just beginning.”
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 4:46 p.m.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Friday following the release of Brittney Griner that more prisoner swaps with the United States may be possible in the future.
According to the Associated Press, Mr Putin said ‘anything is possible’ when asked if there could be more prisoner swaps in the future.
“We do not refuse to continue this work in the future,” he said.
It’s unclear what that means for Paul Whelan, an American locked up in Russia since 2018. The White House lobbied for his release alongside Griner, but reports indicate Russia was unwilling to release Mr. Whelan.
Joe Biden said he would “never give up” trying to secure Mr Whelan’s release.
Find out more in the Independent Premium story below…
Graig GraziosiDecember 9, 2022 4:20 p.m.
The Independent Gt