After an endless number of failed negotiations, the American Olympian has finally been freed from a Russian penal colony.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the release of Brittney Griner from Russian detention and said the administration will continue efforts to bring Paul Whelan and other detainees back to the US.
“[We] will not relent in our efforts to bring Paul and all other U.S. nationals held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad home to their loved ones where they belong,” Blinken said in a statement.
Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine — who was arrested in 2018 on espionage charges, which he has consistently and vehemently denied — is serving a 16-year prison sentence.
“I am grateful to the State Department team and to our colleagues across the government who worked tirelessly to secure her release. I especially commend Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, who is accompanying Brittney back to the United States, as well as his entire team,” Blinken said.
“We also extend deep appreciation to our many partners who helped achieve this outcome, including our Emirati friends, who assisted in the transfer today,” he said, indicating that the prisoner swap for Griner took place in the United Arab Emirates.
“While we celebrate Brittney’s release, Paul Whelan and his family continue to suffer needlessly,” Blinken said. “Despite our ceaseless efforts, the Russian Government has not yet been willing to bring a long overdue end to his wrongful detention. I wholeheartedly wish we could have brought Paul home today on the same plane with Brittney.”
CNN political commentator Van Jones said the release of Brittney Griner from Russian detention was the result of an extensive “grassroots movement” — led especially by Black women back in the US.
“Today is going to be a joyful moment. For all the pain, for all the criticisms, a joyful moment for the Black women who led a movement to get one of their sisters home. This was a grassroots movement. They had to push to get male athletes, to get us to take it seriously, but they have triumphed,” Jones told CNN.
“Here is the deal, if you can bring one home, you can bring two home. So I don’t see this as bad sign for Paul Whelan. I think it is a good sign for what Americans can do when we stand together,” he added.
CNN’s Don Lemon noted the significance of the moment for the LGBTQ community, as members of the community face challenges in the US and around the world.
Jones said Griner represents “everything in this country — she’s female, she’s LGBTQ, she’s Black, and she is extraordinary. She’s excellent. She’s overcome. She’s an icon. She’s done everything you can do in her sport and more — and yet she still wasn’t safe.”
“We didn’t let it stand. Americans came together. And I think that Biden and Kamala Harris, this is one of the things I think they’ll be the most proud of,” he said.
Griner is an evil horrible example of an ‘American’! How many evil mass murdering religious terrorists were traded/freed to get that piece of shiiite back?
And because of her stupid, selfserving , egotistical behavior, a criminal has been loosed on society. Yes, she is a very responsible woman and she’s responsible for that. All the rest of the privileged women’s basketball players that make good salaries not for their own ability but thanks to living off of men’s basketball income and who cried over Griner as if she were a victim instead of a privileged idiot should really feel happy about that exchange. The only good thing is maybe she’s learned a little humility and Wat freedom really means.
The US government should have fought for the release of any American prisoners for which there was no evidence of wrongdoing, rather than for the release of someone actually caught violating Russian law. Now that she is released, Ms. Griner should be banned from representing the United States in any events, including Olympic ones. We should not have known scofflaws or drug addicts representing us.
This communist get to be released and not the U,S. marine ?
She should have been left there to serve her sentence out….now Russia will walk all over this country whenever they feel like it. Such a wrong decision…
Personally, exchanging a notorious and evil gun smuggler for a basketball player caught with drugs at the airport is a bad deal
The gun dealer was worth at least Griner and Whelan and not just one. Leaving a marine behind while saving a black lesbian basketball player is not going to sit well with the conservative crowd.
Maybe we should be looking for another ruskie to arrest (not hard as a lot of them are corrupted criminals ) and get Whelan back in exchange
They brought the wrong one home…
Unfortunately, US is full of “holier than thou” persons. Go on your narrow path. If you are not content in the US, you can leave.