Updated: Apr 29
Sydney McKinney-Williams, Staff Writer
Brittney Griner on a plane making her way back home to the U.S.. Photo//Russian Federal Security Service
After a grueling 294 days of being detained in Russia, Brittney Griner was finally able to make her return home.
She was released within the terms of a prisoner swap between Russia and the U.S.. The U.S. released a high profile arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner’s freedom.
Her previous sentence was nine years, and she was transferred to a penal colony in November.
President Biden commented on the release, stating, “This is a day we've worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release. It took painstaking and intense negotiations, and I want to thank all the hardworking public servants across my administration who worked tirelessly to secure her release.”
Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, was vocal about expressing her admiration to President Biden and many other staff members in the White House who worked towards her wife’s release. Cherelle commented in stating, “BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul [Whelan], whose family is in our hearts today as we celebrate BG being home.”
On the flight, Griner did not want any alone time. She spent time talking to every person on that flight whether they were a government official or a crew member. She got all of their names and was asking everyone questions.
She also spoke about her time detained and in the penal colony. She spent about 12 hours of the 18-hour flight discussing with people on the plane. According to Roger Carstens, a key person who helped in Griner’s release, Griner said on the plane, “I've been in prison for 10 months, listening to the Russians. I want to talk.”
Griner is currently staying in a hotel at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. She has been offered immediate medical services and special counseling. There are no immediate plans for her to leave at this moment.
She did, however, have her first light basketball workout on the base. She actually began the workout with a dunk, but Griner has no plans to return to the WNBA anytime soon. Spokesperson Lindsay Kagawa Colas commented, "If she wants to play, it will be for her to share. She has the holidays to rest and decide what's next without any pressure," Colas said. "She's doing really, really well. She seems to have endured this in pretty incredible ways."
Griner is trying to reintegrate her way into society, and she has no real timeline of when she plans to return to a lot of things she did previously. Griner has said that she wants to use her position to advocate for other people wrongfully detained internationally. She is being as positive as she can, and overall she is happy to be home.