WNBA star Brittney Griner lands back in USA after Russia prisoner swap with ‘merchant of death’ arms dealer Viktor Bout | The Sun

BASKETBALL star Brittney Griner has arrived back in the US after being freed from a Russian prison.

Her plane touched down in San Antonio, Texas at 4:30am local time on Friday, reports say.

The WNBA player, 32, was taken to a hospital for medical tests after landing at Kelly Field, KSAT reported.

She was released in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The one-for-one prisoner exchange was approved by president Joe Biden within the last week, CBS News reported.

The agreement was reportedly reached last Thursday.

Russian courts sentenced Brittney to nine years in prison on August 4 on drug smuggling charges for bringing hashish oil into the country.

She was heading back to New York in February when she was stopped at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport after a scan revealed that she had cartridges containing liquid with hashish oil.

Brittney’s wife Cherelle said she was “overwhelmed with emotions” as she thanked the Biden administration for the athlete’s release.

She said: “Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware there is a whole of families who aren't.”

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Brittney returned to the US, while notorious arms dealer Bout headed to Russia.

Bout was met by his family when the plane carrying him touched down in Moscow.

He reportedly told state media: "They simply woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to pack my things. There was no clear information beforehand."

His mom Raisa thanked officials in the US for "having faith", according to the Deccan Herald.

Bout exploited the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and ran a fleet of planes, shipping ammunition to war-torn countries in Africa.

He’s also accused of supplying ammunition to brutal regimes and warlords.

An arrest warrant had been issued and Bout was taken into custody in Thailand in 2008.

Drug Enforcement Administration officials executed a sting operation.

Bout had agreed to supply anti-aircraft missiles to agents who had posed up as members of the Colombian Marxist-Leninist group FARC.

When he was being ushered by agents, Bout reportedly said: “I guess the game is over.”

In 2011, Bout was convicted on charges of conspiring to kill American citizens and officers.

He was also found guilty of providing resources in the form of weapons to a foreign terrorist organization.

Attorney Preet Bharara said: “He aimed to sell those weapons to terrorists for the purpose of killing Americans.”

Dr. Stepan Stepanenko, a research fellow and Ukrainian affairs expert at the Henry Jackson Society, exclusively told The U.S. Sun that Biden's administration had to play one of its biggest hands to get Griner home.

"The exchange now was a sign that in the near future, we will not be able to deal with Russia as well as we have before," Stepanenko said.

"Whether it was Russians asking for him or Americans offering, it's not entirely clear. But it was one of their trump cards, and they got rid of it.

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He believes that the prisoner swap shows that US officials think diplomacy with an increasingly aggressive Russian state is a lost cause.

"Exchanges shouldn't be seen as Biden reaching out. It's a sign that [the relations are] worse … and the final opportunity to get Brittney out," he said.

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