Brittney Griner: WNBA player Brittney Griner released in prison swap

Russia has freed basketball star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap, with the US releasing Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, US officials say.

The absence of one player from the Women's National Basketball Association was gaining attention after the Phoenix Mercury player was detained in Russia for several months now alleged drug charges.

Here’s what you need to know.

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WNBA player Brittney Griner detained in Russia

Brittney Griner, seen her during the second half during the game against the Chicago Sky at Footprint Center on October 10th, 2021, is currently detained in Russia under drug charges. Photo: Mike Mattina/Getty Images.

The Biden administration has tried for months to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner swap with Moscow.

The American state department has stated that giving out information publicly can impact the government’s ability to bring US citizens home when detained abroad.

The WNBA and Phoenix Mercury have both stated that they are working with the state department to bring Ms Griner home.

The basketball player has been detained in Russia since February. She is believed to be held on drug charges, after airport customs in Russia allegedly found cannabis oil in her luggage. If convicted, she could face up to ten years in prison.

Moscow have continually stated that her stay would be extended.

Who is Brittney Griner?

Widely agreed to be the best female basketball player of all time, Ms Griner is one of a small number to have won a college championship, WNBA and EuroLeague titles and an Olympic gold medal.

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As is common for female basketball players, she has played for a Russian team during the WNBA off-season since 2015. Roughly half of all WNBA players compete overseas during the off-season.

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