American basketball player Brittney Griner has been released from jail by Russian authorities in a one-for-one prisoner swap for the notorious Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout.


President Joe Biden confirmed the news in a tweet, saying "Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home."


The U.S. athlete was arrested at a Moscow airport in February and handed nine years in prison in August for possessing vape cartridges with a small quantity of cannabis oil.


Bout was convicted in November 2011 on charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens. 

Russia confirmed that Bout had been exchanged for the 32-year-old basketballer, who was detained in a Cold-War style standoff between Moscow and Washington over Russia's military offensive in Ukraine.



"On December 8, 2022, at the Abu Dhabi airport, the exchange of Russian citizen Viktor Bout for U.S. citizen Brittney Griner... was successfully completed," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.


Moscow said it had been negotiating with Washington to secure Bout's release "for a long time" and that initially the US had "refused dialogue" on including him in any swap.


"Nevertheless, the Russian Federation continued to actively work to rescue our compatriot. The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland," the defence ministry said.

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