[ワシントン ８日 ロイター] – US President Biden announced on the 8th that Britney Greiner (32) of the US Women’s Professional Basketball League (WNBA), who was imprisoned in Russia, was released in a prisoner exchange.
President Biden told reporters at the White House, “Greiner is safe and is currently on the plane home,” and said he would arrive in the United States within 24 hours.
Biden and Vice President Harris spoke with Greiner on the phone from the Oval Office. The White House released a photo of the call.
Russia’s foreign ministry said it had conducted a prisoner swap between the player and Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout, who was in prison in the United States. The exchange took place at Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to Russian news agency.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement that the UAE president and Saudi crown prince had led the coordination for Greiner’s release. President Biden thanked the UAE but did not mention Saudi Arabia.
Greiner was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17 after e-cigarette cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia, were found in his luggage. On August 4, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession and smuggling.
Biden also said he would continue to work toward the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is serving a prison sentence in Russia on espionage charges. “We never give up,” he said.
Whelan’s lawyer said talks about his release are continuing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. “Discussions around his exchange are ongoing at intelligence level. Everything is pretty closed, but it’s ongoing,” he said.