President Joe Biden Thursday announced the release of basketball player Brittney Griner as part of a prisoner swap with Russia. Griner received a nine-year prison sentence after drugs were found in her luggage at a Russian airport in February.
Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, in a Russian prison for more than three years, was not included in the administration’s deal with Russia.
Critics question the president’s priorities, claiming Biden valued a basketball player over a Marine who has been imprisoned by Russia three times longer.
The New York Post further reported:
WNBA star Brittney Griner, detained for months in a Russian prison on drug charges, was released Thursday in a prisoner exchange for international arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The swap comes at a time of heightened tensions over the war in Ukraine, and after months of tense negotiations between the Kremlin and President Biden.
Biden signed off on the trade, which took place in the United Arab Emirates, and agreed to release the Russian felon once nicknamed “the Merchant of Death.”
The deal also leaves behind another American, Paul Whelan, who has been held in Russian prison for nearly four years.
Biden is expected to give remarks on the deal at 8:45 a.m.
The Russian government reportedly rebuked Washington efforts for a two-for-one swap that would have brought both Mr. Whelan and Griner home. Faced with a one-for-one swap, the administration returned Griner home while leaving Whelan in his Russian cell.
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