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Joe Biden: “Brittney Griner was detained under intolerable circumstances in Russia”

The basketball player was detained in Russia

The president of the United States, Joe Biden, confirmed this Thursday that the basketball player Brittney Griner, released in Russia in a prisoner exchange, is “safe” and on a plane back to the US.

“After months of being unjustly detained in Russiaheld under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones. And she should have been there the whole time,” Biden said at the White House.

“He is safe, he is on a plane. He is coming back home, ”he added and also confirmed that he has spoken with her from the Oval Office, where he was accompanied by the vice president, Kamala Harris, and the athlete’s wife, Cherelle Griner.

The president explained that Griner, who is in “good spirits,” has been released – exchanged for a Russian prisoner, the arms dealer Viktor Bout– after some “intense” negotiations and after she was sentenced in a “theatrical” and unfair trial.

Cherelle Griner and Joe Biden in the Oval Office, where they spoke by telephone with the freed basketball player (Reuters)
Cherelle Griner and Joe Biden in the Oval Office, where they spoke by telephone with the freed basketball player (Reuters)

Biden also wanted reminding other Americans that they have been taken “hostage” and “arbitrarily” detained in Russia or in other countries, and assured that they are a “priority” for his administration.

In this sense, he regretted that the United States has not yet been able to release another American prisoner, Paul Whelan, whose case “unfortunately” and for “totally illegitimate reasons” Russia has treated differently from Griner’s.

On the other hand, Biden issued a warning message to Americans to take all possible precautions before traveling outside the country and to inform themselves about the risks of being detained by foreign governments, because the negotiations to release them are “very difficult” and “there are never any guarantees.”

“Overwhelmed with emotion,” Cherelle Griner, the basketball player’s wife, thanked the Biden government for its work in bringing the athlete back.

He assured that he was also speaking on behalf of his wife to promise that they will remain committed to the work of bringing all the Americans who are still unjustly imprisoned.

Griner was sentenced last August to nine years in prison in Russia on drug possession and smuggling charges, while But, known as the “merchant of death,” was serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States.

Griner, who was detained in February this year at a Moscow airport with cannabis oil among her belongings, accepted her guilt and asked for leniency, a request rejected by the court.

(With information from EFE)

Keep reading:

Vladimir Putin said that Russia will continue to bomb Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, a war crime
Russia has exchanged American athlete Brittney Griner for arms dealer Viktor Bout

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