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    Brittney Griner trade news live: WNBA star arrives at San Antonio army hospital in US after being released by Russia in exchange for Viktor Bout

    Brittney Griner back on US soil after spending 294 days in Russian prison

    Brittney Griner has landed back on US soil for the first time in 10 months after she was released from Russian custody in a prisoner swap with “Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout.

    The WNBA star arrived at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio early on Friday morning, where she will be examined and receive any necessary medical treatment.

    Footage showed Ms Griner and Bout being exchanged on the tarmac of a runway in the UAE on Thursday, following weeks of negotiations between Washington and Moscow.

    The deal failed to include US Marine Paul Whelan who has been detained in Russia for the last four years. Mr Whelan told CNN he was “greatly disappointed” to learn he was not part of the prisoner swap, saying: “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”

    President Joe Biden insisted on Thursday that “we’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan” and vowed to “never give up” securing his release, as the swap divided opinion across the country. The White House was also forced to deny claims made by Saudi Arabia and the UAE that MBS negotiated the deal.

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    White House press secretary says Brittney Griner reunited with wife, appears to be in good health

    Former WNBA star Brittney Griner has been reunited with her wife, Cherelle, according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

    Griner returned to the US on Friday after she was released from Russian custody thanks to a prisoner swap negotiated by US officials. International arms dealer Viktor Bout was released from US custody in the trade.

    Ms Jean-Pierre said Griner was in “very good spirits” upon her return, and appeared “to be in good health.”

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 19:52

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    Brittney Griner cut her hair while locked up in Russia because her locks were freezing

    Former WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was released from Russian custody this week thanks to a prisoner swap deal the US made the Russia, reportedly cut her hair short while imprisoned because it was freezing on her head.

    Maria Blagovolina, one of Griner’s attorneys, told ESPN that Griner cut her hair approximately two weeks ago after it began freezing due to the cold Russian winter.

    “It’s very cold in there and every time she washed her hair she got cold and would get a chill,” Ms Blagovolina said. “She should have waited until New Year’s Day.”

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 19:31

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    Russians did not negotiate ‘in good faith’ for Paul Whelan, White House press secretary says

    White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday that Russia was not willing to engage in “good faith” negotiations to free Paul Whelan, an American man who has been imprisoned in the country since 2018. US officials attempted to include Mr Whelan in a prisoner swap deal they made to free former WNBA star Brittney Griner, but a deal could not be reached.

    “In the past week or two, we saw that the Russians were willing to release Brittney Griner for Mr Bout. That’s what was presented to us. They were not willing to negotiate in good faith for Paul Whelan.”

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 19:03

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    Russia offered up Paul Whelan as part of Brittney Griner trade, but asked for spy serving life sentence for murder

    US officials speaking with CNN told the outlet that Russia did offer Paul Whelan as part of the prisoner swap deal that freed former WNBA star Brittney Griner, but only if a Russian spy serving a life sentence in Germany for murder was released along with the “Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout.

    The US inquired with Germany about potentially releasing Vadim Krasikov, the Russian spy who was convicted for murder. The US was unable to negotiate for the Russian’s release. However, according to officials, the US did offer up other imprisoned Russians in an effort to free Mr Whelan, but those offers were rejected by Russia.

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 18:46

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    Tucker Carlson makes baseless claim that Biden chose to rescue Griner and not Paul Whelan due to identity politics

    During a broadcast on Fox News, host Tucker Carlson claimed, without evidence, that NBC News scrubbed a report it released that initially said Russia had given the US the option to release either Brittney Griner or Paul Whelan. He claims the network did this at the behest of the Biden administration, again without a shred of evidence.

    “Why did they make that choice? You should know that Whalen is a Trump voter and he made the mistake of saying so on social media, and he’s paying the price for that now,” Carlson said. “Brittany Griner is not. She has very different politics.”

    According to Carlson, Griner was chosen because Mr Whelan is a Trump voter and Griner is Black, a woman, and a lesbian.

    Russia — which has no incentive to protect Joe Biden’s image — has not issued any statement undermining the White House’s claim that Mr Whelan was never on the table for a possible prisoner swap.

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 17:57

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    Steph Curry’s full Brittney Griner message during SI Sportsperson of the Year awards

    NBA star Steph Curry won Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year award during a ceremony on Thursday, and during his acceptance speech addressed the release of former WNBA star Brittney Griner.

    Mr Curry was a major advocate for Griner while she was in prison.

    “We are glad she’s home, we’re glad she’s reunited with her family,” Mr Curry said. “It’s a constant reminder for everybody continuing to use their platforms to speak on issues that are meaningful and can move the needle. Thank you to President Biden’s administration for being a part of that fight. But, it’s also a reminder that we all need to stay engaged in the fight to protect American citizens at home and abroad who are wrongfully detained, and we can continue to be engaged in that fight. BG, we love you. We thank you for your sacrifice and your continued perseverance and patience to get through this process, and hope you enjoy reuniting with your family. We are always with you, BG.”

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 17:25

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    ‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout says the West wants Russia to crumble

    Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer, was released this week in a prisoner exchange between the US and Russia for former WNBA star Brittney Griner. After his release he shared his views about his captors with Russian media, according to the Associated Press.

    “The West believes that it has failed to finish us off when the Soviet Union began to collapse,” Bout said. “And our efforts to live independently, be an independent power is a shock to them.”

    Russian state media hailed Bout’s return.

    “Everyone will forget about Griner tomorrow,” Yevgeny Popov, a Russian state media host, wrote on Telegram on Thursday. “Bout’s life is only beginning.”

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 16:46

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Friday in the wake of Brittney Griner’s release that more prisoner swaps with the US may be possible in the future.

    According to the Associated Press, Mr Putin said that “everything is possible” when asked if there may be more prisoner exchanges in the future.

    “We aren’t refusing to continue this work in the future,” he said.

    It’s unclear what that may mean in for Paul Whelan, an American who has been locked up in Russia since 2018. The White House pushed for his release alongside Griner’s, but reports indicate Russia was not willing to release Mr Whelan.

    Joe Biden said he would “never give up” trying to secure Mr Whelan’s release.

    Read more in the Independent Premium story below…

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 16:20

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    Pentagon admits it has ‘concerns’ over release of ‘Merchant of Death’

    An unnamed Pentagon official said there are some concerns within the defense agency regarding the release of Viktor Bout, the “Merchant of Death” arms dealer, back into the world.

    Bout was freed by the US as part of a prisoner swap to secure the release of Brittney Griner.

    “I think there is a concern that he would return to doing the same kind of work that he’s done in the past,” an unnamed Defense Department official told Politico.

    Read more at The Independent below.

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 15:56

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    Putin says future prisoners swaps possible

    Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Friday in the wake of Brittney Griner’s release that more prisoner swaps with the US may be possible in the future.

    According to the Associated Press, Mr Putin said that “everything is possible” when asked if there may be more prisoner exchanges in the future.

    “We aren’t refusing to continue this work in the future,” he said.

    It’s unclear what that may mean in for Paul Whelan, an American who has been locked up in Russia since 2018. The White House pushed for his release alongside Griner’s, but reports indicate Russia was not willing to release Mr Whelan.

    Joe Biden said he would “never give up” trying to secure Mr Whelan’s release.

    Graig Graziosi9 December 2022 15:32

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