Brittney Griner lands back in the US after exchanging Viktor Bout

Brittney Griner is back on US soil.

The WNBA star landed at Kelly Field Air Force Base in San Antonio around 5:40 a.m. EST after being released to US officials as part of a prisoner swap for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in the United Arab Emirates.

After arriving in her home state, Griner, who spent 10 months in a Russian women’s prison, was scheduled to undergo a comprehensive physical and mental evaluation at Brooke Army Medical Center, KENS5 reported.

dr Ralph Riviallo, chair of the emergency medicine division at UT Health San Antonio, told the news outlet that doctors will be looking for any anemia, electrolyte imbalances and infections she may have. Medics will also note any injuries she may have sustained during her incarceration.

Within days, said Dr. Riviello, a “multidisciplinary team” is likely to conduct a deeper assessment of Griner’s experiences imprisoned abroad.

The exterior of Brooke Army Medical Center where Brittney Griner will receive medical treatment on her return to the United States.
The exterior of Brooke Army Medical Center where Brittney Griner will receive medical treatment on her return to the United States.
REUTERS

“(They would be looking for) more details about what happened to them during their incarceration and what they may have endured. Was there physical violence? Was there torture? Was there psychological torture or manipulation?” he told the outlet.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US is willing to give Griner anything she needs if she asks for it.

“She may enlist US support and we will provide her with all of that. How long she takes this help is a question for Brittney Griner, a question for Cherelle. But it will be an ongoing conversation that we have with them,” Price said on MSNBC

The 32-year-old Phoenix Mercury Center was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for transporting vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia.

She was arrested just a week before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began, leading to speculation that she was being held as collateral to be used as a bargaining chip against the US.

Griner, who claimed to have accidentally packed the cannabis oil in her luggage, pleaded guilty to drug offenses and was sentenced to nine years in a forced labor camp in Mordovia.

The exchange of Griner and Viktor Bout took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The exchange of Griner and Viktor Bout took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Photos released by Russia’s TASS news agency revealed the tiny cot the 6ft 9 tall eight-time All-Star was forced to sleep in for months at Women’s Penal Colony No. 2 in Mordovia, Russia, while US officials scramble to secure their negotiate return home .

Griner wears green prison garb in her cropped dress – making her almost unrecognizable next to her towering frame. Other photos show the barren meals she was forced to eat and the basketball player going to work.

Following her medical, Griner will return to her 3,000-square-foot property in Arizona, where she will have plenty of time and space to stretch out.

Critics slammed the government’s decision to exchange Griner for Bout – an international arms dealer also known as the “Angel of Death”.

Viktor Bout, the Russian released Thursday by the US in exchange for Griner.
Viktor Bout, the Russian released Thursday by the US in exchange for Griner.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Bout was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to murder Americans, including by supplying weapons to the Colombia-based drug terror group FARC. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Excluded from the deal was Paul Whelan – an ex-Marine who has been held in Russia for almost four years on espionage charges. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the US had tried to negotiate for Whelan but the Russians had not backed down.

Whelan’s family supported the deal to bring Griner home, calling it “the right decision” rather than waiting for another opportunity that may never come.

Marc Fogel, who like Griner was arrested with a small amount of marijuana in his luggage, also remains incarcerated in Russia, serving a 14-year sentence.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/09/brittney-griner-lands-back-in-the-us-after-viktor-bout-exchange/ Brittney Griner lands back in the US after exchanging Viktor Bout

JACLYN DIAZ

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