Brittney Griner is back home in the United States


AP photo/Rick Scuteri

Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner rests during game two of the WNBA finals against the Chicago Sky.

Gerardo Deanda, General Staff Reporter

Brittney Gtiner is a WNBA player for the Phoenix Mercury. During the WNBA off-season Griner played for the UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League. Griner plays overseas because the salary is much higher than in the WNBA. Overseas she makes around $1 million dollars in the Premier League compared to her $554,000 in the WNBA. 

She was detained by Russian customs officials on Feb. 17, 2022. Officials said she was carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil; Marijuana is illegal in Russia 

When news about the situation was released many people were calling for her release. The WNBA released an official statement on March 5, “Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.” 

On Aug. 4 a Russian judge convicted Griner of drug possession and smuggling. She was sentenced to a nine year prison sentence. Griner appealed the conviction but the appeal was rejected on Oct. 25. 

On Dec. 8 Griner was released from Russian custody after a prisoner swap. President Biden authorized a prisoner swap with Russia. The U.S. receives Griner while Russia receives Viktor Bout. They completed the swap in the United Arab Emirates. 

President Biden has received a lot of backlash from releasing Bout. Bout is a Russian arms dealer with the nickname “The Merchant of Death.” Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to kill Americans. Due to Bout’s infamy, the public has been criticizing President Biden’s choice to free him in return for Griner. 

He has also been criticized for leaving behind former U.S. marine Paul Whelan. Whelan went from being a marine to a corporate security executive. He was convicted of espionage and is serving a 16-year sentence in Russian prison. 

Whelan was a former sheriff’s deputy and served several tours in Iraq as an active-duty reservist. However, he was discharged from the Marines in 2008 due to bad conduct. He was convicted of charges akin to larceny. 

After 294 days in Russia, Griner was released and is enjoying her time as a free woman. Many celebrated her return home; The Phoenix Mercury said in a tweet, “No more days. She’s coming home 🧡.”