How 7 advocacy organizations celebrated Brittney Griner's release

U.S. officials traded Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner’s freedom.

A mural depicting Brittney Griner outside the Footprint Center in Phoenix. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

WASHINGTON: Women’s basketball superstar Brittney Griner is back in the U.S., following detainment in Russia in February

“Moments ago, standing together with her wife, Cherelle, in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner. She’s safe. She’s on a plane. She’s on her way home,” President Joe Biden said in a speech from the White House on Thursday morning.

The deal, which was reportedly struck about a week ago, saw the U.S. exchange Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who had served 11 years of a 25-year sentence, for Griner’s release. 

Biden also said that his administration has not given up on efforts to free former U.S. marine Paul Whelan, who remains detained in Russia nearly four years after his arrest on espionage charges.  

“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. And we’ll keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release. I guarantee that,” Biden added.

Griner had been detained in Russia since February after authorities arrested her on charges that she carried vape cartridges that contained a small amount of cannabis oil into Moscow. 

In August, a Russian court sentenced the Phoenix Mercury center to nine years in prison. A few months later in October, Griner’s appeal was rejected

Here’s how several advocacy organizations responded to Griner’s release.  


Human Rights Campaign


National Black Justice Coalition

Black Lives Matter and Black Feminist Future

Color of Change

National Urban League

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