After a 10-month detainment in Russia and getting, eight-time WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was allowed to return to the United States. The Joe Biden administration negotiated a one-for-one prisoner swap involving convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The exchange took place on Dec. 8 in the United Arab Emirates after President Biden gave his final approval for the swap. According to CBS News, the United States and Russia had agreed to the swap on Dec. 1. The White House confirmed Griner's safety and posted a video of President Biden speaking to Griner on the phone. Biden said that he was "glad to be able to say Brittney is in good spirits."
Griner landed at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas on Friday. Griner is expected to undergo a medical evaluation, which is standard procedure for freed U.S. prisoners.
Here is a full timeline of Griner's situation:
Feb. 17: Griner was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow when the Russian Federal Customs Service discovered vape cartridges containing marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage.
Feb. 24: Russia launched a full-scale military attack against Ukraine, prompting the U.S. and other countries to issue severe sanctions against Russia. The detainment of Griner occurred during a time of high tension, making negotiations more difficult.
March 5: The State Department urged American citizens to immediately leave Russia to avoid the "potential for harassment" in an updated advisory.
March 17: A Moscow court extended Griner's pretrial detention until May 19 and denied her request for house arrest, according to Insider. Griner, who is 6-foot-9, had complained about the jail cell's beds being too small for her, per the TASS report. She shared the cell with two other English-speaking inmates, and both reportedly had no prior convictions and were being held for "drug-related articles," per NBC.
March 18: Ekaterina Kalugina, a representative of Moscow's Public Monitoring Commission that oversees how prisoners are treated, said the U.S. consul had yet to visit Griner. Kalugina says this is despite Russian authorities saying they will "create all conditions" for a visit to occur.
March 22: Griner met with U.S. officials for the first time since being held in pre-trial detention.
May 13: Griner made a brief Russian courtroom appearance and learned her pretrial detention was extended until June 18. Alexander Boykov, Griner's lawyer, told the AP that the extension's relatively brief length means his client will soon get a trial. The lawyer added Griner did not have "any complaints about the detention conditions," but it was unclear whether the bed-size situation had been resolved.
April 27: U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed is released from Russian custody in a prisoner exchange, which is seen as a positive sign for Griner's potential release.
May 2: The WNBA announces it will honor Griner by installing a decal featuring her initials and No. 42 jersey number on every court around the league.
May 3: The U.S. government declared Griner "wrongfully detained" and reportedly enlisted the help of former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has several years of experience as an international hostage negotiator.
May 17: NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced he and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert are working "side-by-side" in securing Griner's release. The process led Silver to communicate with "every level" of government.
May 25: Cherelle Griner spoke about the situation in a "Good Morning America" interview -- her first televised interview since Brittney Griner was detained. Cherelle said the two had not verbally communicated in over 100 days, as her wife's phone was taken away shortly after she entered police custody.
June 2: A report revealed. Russian officials examined the emails and letters sent to Griner before she read them, and Griner had to respond either through writing on paper or dictation.
June 14: Griner's pre-trial detention gets extended for a third time. She was then set to remain in custody until at least July 2.
June 26: Griner attends a preliminary hearing and her detention is extended six months, her fourth extension. The start of her criminal trial was set for July 1 and she was ordered to remain in custody for the duration of the trial.
July 1: More than 130 days after her detainment, Griner officially began her criminal trial. According to TASS, Griner said in court she understood the charges but declined to immediately comment on them. The prosecution questioned two witnesses on Day 1, an airport customs official and an unidentified witness, with only the former speaking in open court, per the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti.
July 7:. Despite her plea, she insisted she had "no intent" of breaking the law.
July 10: WNBA honors Griner during the.
July 14: Griner was expected to testify on the third day of her trial, but she didn't. Instead, she had support from two character witnesses. One of them was Maxim Rybakov, director of Griner's Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg, and the other was teammate Evgeniia Beliakova. Rybakov told reporters it was the first time he'd seen Griner since February. He said she appeared to look and feel well.
July 17: CNN reported the United States had offered to exchange Bout as part of a potential deal with Russia to release Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said publicly the U.S. government had put a "substantial proposal on the table" but did not confirm the reports regarding Bout.
July 27: During the first day Griner testified at her trial, she recounted the day of her arrest and said the interpreter did not provide a full translation, explaining she had to use a translation app on her phone to communicate with a customs officer. Griner also said she was also not offered an explanation of her rights or given access to lawyers while being instructed to sign documents.
Aug. 2: Griner's lawyers argued the state-appointed forensic expert who examined the cartridges found in her luggage made some technical and procedural errors. CBS News reported the defense team called another forensic expert, Dmitry Gladyshev, to testify on the stand.
Aug. 4: Griner isand fined 1,000,000 Russian rubles -- just over $16,000.
Aug. 13: For the first time since Griner's detainment, Russian officials confirmed they were undergoing negotiations with the U.S. government regarding a potential prisoner swap involving Bout that could bring Griner home. Alexander Datchiev, head of the North America department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Russia prefers "silent diplomacy."
Aug. 15: Griner's defense team. They argued her punishment was "excessive."
Sept. 16: Biden met with Cherelle Griner, as well as with Griner's agent, Lindsay Colas. He also met with Whelan's sister. Whelan, described as a corporate security director, has been serving a 16-year prison sentence since 2020 for espionage charges.
Oct. 6: CBS Mornings released an interview with Cherelle Griner, who described the situation with her wife as "terrifying."
Oct. 16: Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told Rossiya-1 -- a state-owned Russian television channel -- that reaching a deal regarding Griner is not currently a priority.
Oct. 25: Griner's.
Nov. 9: Griner gets transferred to a Russian penal colony with.
Nov. 17: Lawyersin the Russian region of Mordovia.
Dec. 1: The United States and Russia agreed to one-for-one prisoner exchange.
Dec. 8: Griner was released in exchange for Bout. The deal did not include Whelan. According to CNN, the Biden administration "repeatedly made offers to get Whelan as part of this deal - even after Russia made clear only Griner was acceptable." Biden said his administration "will never give up" on his release.
Dec. 9: Griner landed at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas.