Feature image photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Image
Update — Friday, December 9th
+ BG landed at Kelly Field in San Antonio around 6:30 am. She was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center for a mental and physical health evaluation. If, like us, you want to see it with your own eyes, here’s some footage of her walking off the plane.
Brittney Griner is back in the United States: pic.twitter.com/1c6kALlpdg
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) December 9, 2022
+ Last night TJ Quinn over at ESPN published a deeply reported piece on the final week of Brittney’s wrongful imprisonment in Russia, including how and why Cherelle was at the White House yesterday morning; why BG’s hair was cut; and how worried her lawyers were, especially after she lost her glasses. It also describes her time in the penal colony where she worked carrying big bolts of fabric to the imprisoned women working as seamstresses. It’s a tough but important read. Just writing about it is making me feel sick again and on the verge of tears because I am just so fucking relieved she’s home. This Twitter thread from Quinn is also really important.It talks about what’s next for Griner in terms of reclaiming her agency and autonomy on American soil.
+ Also, if you’re actually interested in the geopolitical details of a prisoner swap, here’s an in-depth piece. I say “actually interested” because suddenly everyone is a damn foreign policy expert. Relevant quotes:
“We tried [Bout], we convicted him, we gave him a very long sentence,” retired US District Judge Shira Scheindlin, who led the sentencing in 2012, told the Reuters news agency earlier this year, as she argued for a swap with Griner. “But now the situation has changed and this is a trade we should make.”
“Her sentence was [entirely] politically motivated,” Russian human rights lawyer Arseny Levinson told Al Jazeera. “She should not have been sentenced to a real prison term at all. Moreover, such a severe punishment should not have been imposed, it was motivated solely by raising the stakes in the exchange, making a mockery out of the hostage.”
+ No one has been doing it better than Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, a leading expert and Ph.D. student studying race/Blackness in Russia/the Soviet Union and Germany. Follow her to get educated.
+ A podcast that deserves your time and attention.
— Brother From Another on Peacock TV (@HolleyandSmith) December 9, 2022
Original Article — Thursday, December 8th
The greatest news I’ve been hoping for and terrified of never hearing has finally broken: After 294 days of being wrongfully detained in Russia, Brittney Griner is free! She’s in American custody, safe, on a plane, and on her way home! The Biden Administration tweeted the news about twenty minutes ago. Cherelle Griner and Vice-President Kamala Harris were in the Oval Office when Biden was put in touch with Griner.
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022
According to CBS News, Griner was released “in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout. The one-for-one exchange agreement negotiated with Moscow in recent weeks was given final approval by President Biden within just the last week, according to sources familiar with the deal. The swap, first reported by CBS News, took place on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates.”
Cherelle Griner, a lawyer whose advocacy for her wife has been constant, spoke from the White House moments ago.
Cherelle Griner says Brittney Griner and “I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul.” pic.twitter.com/npWModqAwq
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) December 8, 2022
Biden also spoke briefly.
BREAKING: Pres. Biden: "I spoke with Brittney Griner. She's safe. She's on a plane. She's on her way home…Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones — and she should have been there all along." https://t.co/MNTPJl3YT4 pic.twitter.com/3NszvTfnyX
— ABC News (@ABC) December 8, 2022
I will update this post today as more information becomes available. And there will be so much to discuss in the weeks and months to come about how this was ever allowed to happen. Right now though, Brittney Griner is alive, and she’s on her way home to her wife.