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Brittney Griner is back home in the U.S. after a prisoner swap with Russia

In this image made from video provided by Russian Federal Security Service, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner sits in the plane as she flies to Abu Dhabi to be exchanged for Russian citizen Viktor Bout, in Russia, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022.
AP
In this image made from video provided by Russian Federal Security Service, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner sits in the plane as she flies to Abu Dhabi to be exchanged for Russian citizen Viktor Bout, in Russia, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022.

Updated December 9, 2022 at 5:11 PM ET

SAN ANTONIO — WNBA star Brittney Griner has landed on American soil after 10 months detained in Russia.

Griner landed at Kelly Airfield in San Antonio at 4:29 a.m. local time. She was brought to Brooke Army Medical Center, where she is undergoing evaluation and was reunited with her wife, Cherelle Griner.

During an afternoon news briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Brittney Griner is in very good spirits and appears to be in good health.

The 32-year-old Houston native was imprisoned in a Russian penal colony earlier this year after authorities there found cannabis oil in her luggage, sentencing her to nine years. The Biden administration negotiated her release in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner's secure return achieved a top goal of President Biden, but he received criticism for failing to win freedom for another American, former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been jailed in Russia for nearly four years.

In a Thursday news conference, Biden said he spoke by phone to Griner and that she was safe and relieved but deserved privacy and rest. U.S. officials said she would receive specialized medical services and counseling.

Reporter Jia Chen of member station TPR reported from San Antonio. Emily Olson contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

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Jia Chen
Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.
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