Brittney Griner 'Happy' on a Plane as Release Footage Surfaces

The WNBA star is finally freed from a labor camp in Russia after the U.S. government was able to negotiate a prisoner swap, which sends back arms dealer Viktor Bout.

AceShowbiz - Brittney Griner is finally going back home, nearly ten months after she was arrested in Russia for carrying hashish oil in her luggage to a Moscow airport. The WNBA star was released from a Russian prison on Thursday, December 8, just in time for the holidays, after the United States government was able to negotiate a prisoner swap.

The person sent back to Russia is notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as "The Merchant of Death". Additionally, the U.S. tried to free Marine Paul Whelan, but Russia was unwilling.

Footage of Griner's release has since been released online. Shot by Russian state media outlet TASS, the footage captured the athlete as she signed a document before heading to an awaiting car. She then got into a plane and showed off her passport.

Griner was all smiles on the plane, telling someone that she was "good" and "happy." She wore a gray beanie, but it can be seen that her signature dreadlocks have been cut off. She was still sporting her long hair when she was seen at a court hearing in late October.

Griner also briefly crossed paths with Bout on the tarmac in the UAE where she was heading to her final plane home. The men accompanying the two shook hands once they got within feet of each other. It's unclear if Griner and Bout did the same as the video cut out as the basketball player appeared to step toward the arms dealer.

Reacting to Griner's release, President Joe Biden tweeted, "Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home." Vice President Kamala Harris was also able to speak with Griner as she got on a plane back home.

While many were celebrating Griner's release, some others, Republicans in particular, slammed the prisoner swap. John Bolton, Former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (NSA), said, "The Bout-for-Griner prisoner swap is not a trade, it's an American surrender. This is not what American strength looks like. Terrorists and rogue states are smiling."

"So we left the other American who’s been there FOUR YEARS, gave Russia their arms dealer back, and all we got was an anthem kneeler that can’t pack a suitcase without putting drugs in it?" another reacted. Similarly, a third critic said, "You left behind a veteran to save an athlete only because the athlete can boost your political image. Slimy. As always."

"If Trump freed an American citizen at the cost of releasing a Russian international criminal arms dealer. The media would call him a Russian puppet," someone claimed. Another, however, defended the prisoner swap, "We traded a prisoner who had served 14 years of his sentence. The judge who sentenced him later said it should have been 10. Trump released 5000 Taliban prisoners during his own negotiations. Geopolitical negotiations are complex."

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