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US Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, waits for the verdict inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022(Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:10 AM PT – Thursday, December 8, 2022

Russia has freed basketball star Brittney Griner after a high-level prisoner exchange for notorious arms dealer, Viktor Bout.

The swap took place in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday after President Joe Biden signed an order commuting Bout’s 25-year federal prison sentence.

Viktor Bout, nicknamed The Merchant of Death, is a Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. He is considered to be one of the world’s largest illicit arms dealers.

Griner, an all-star center for the WNBA Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is returning home after being sentenced four-to-nine years back in August for drug possession.

In February, Russian customs had arrested the Houston native after they found a cannabis vaporizer in her possession at a Moscow airport. In the ordeal, the basketball player pleaded guilty but maintained that she had no criminal intent.

Paul Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine wrongfully detained by the State Department, was not included in the prisoner swap. The Biden’s administration had sought the release of both Griner and Whelan.

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