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WNBA star Brittney Griner arrives back in U.S. after Russian prisoner swap

WNBA star Brittney Griner arriving in San Antonio on Friday. Eric Gay / AP

WNBA star Brittney Griner arrived back in the United States early Friday after being freed from Russian custody, bringing a nearly yearlong ordeal to an end.

Griner could be seen climbing down the steps of a plane shortly after it arrived at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas before 6 a.m. EST.

“So happy to have Brittney back on U.S. soil. Welcome home BG!” Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens tweeted shortly after.

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Griner, 32, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and center for the Phoenix Mercury, was freed Thursday in a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia. A senior administration official said that Griner would be flown to a San Antonio medical facility.

The U.S. freed Viktor Bout, an arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” who was serving a 25-year prison sentence handed down by a judge in 2012.

Griner was sentenced in August in a Russian court to nine years in prison for allegedly possessing a vape cartridges of cannabis oil in her luggage, which she said was unintentional. She was being held at a penal colony.

U.S. officials said the athlete had been wrongfully detained by Russia. President Joe Biden, who said he approved the deal that saw Griner freed, said Thursday that she had been “held under intolerable circumstances.”

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