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WNBA star Brittney Griner released from Russian custody in prisoner swap

Posted at 8:12 AM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 08:34:11-05

WASHINGTON — WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian custody in a prisoner swap.

The Russians gave up Griner in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout who was serving prison time in the U.S.

Sources tell CBS news the high-stakes swap happened Thursday at a neutral location in the United Arab Emirates that both the U.S. and Russia had agreed on.

Russian officials publicly signaled their willingness to engage in prisoner swap negotiations after Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison on drug charges

Griner's lawyers argued she had mistakenly brought vape cartridges in her luggage containing less than a gram of cannabis oil back in February.

Her release comes after many months of pressure from U.S. officials who urged the Kremlin to set her free.

Earlier this year, former U.S. marine Trevor Reed returned home after spending more than two years in a Russian jail on assault charges.

In exchange, the U.S. released Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, a convicted drug smuggler.

Griner had been serving time in one of Russia's labor camps notorious for its harsh treatment of inmates.

She will now undergo a health check at a U.S. military base before returning to the U.S. just in time for the holidays.

CBS News contributed to this report. We will continue to update this story as it develops.

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