U.S. Basketball player Brittney Griner, who's been detained in Russia since February, was released and heading home Thursday after a prisoner swap between Washington and Moscow.
Griner was swapped for Russian citizen Viktor Bout at the Abu Dhabi airport on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed.
Griner, a 32-year-old two-time Olympic medalist for the U.S. women's national basketball team, was arrested at an airport in Moscow in February for illegally bringing cannabis into Russia. Her arrest came days before the Ukraine crisis broke out and as U.S.-Russia tensions escalated.
In August, she was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined 1 million rubles (15,773 U.S. dollars) for drug smuggling.
Bout was arrested by the Thai police at the request of Washington in 2008 and charged with selling weapons to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group. He was extradited to the United States in 2010 and sentenced to 25 years behind bars with a fine of 15 million U.S. dollars in 2012.
"Washington categorically refused a dialogue on the inclusion of Bout in the exchange scheme. Nevertheless, Russia continued to actively work to rescue our compatriot," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Telegram.
U.S. President Joe Biden also tweeted in the morning that he just spoke by phone with Griner. He thanked the authorities in the United Arab Emirates, where the prisoner swap took place.