Fresh footage from Russian state television offered a glimpse into Brittney Griner’s grim existence inside a Russian penal colony before being granted freedom on Thursday.
A dramatic prisoner swap took place at the Abu Dhabi Executive Airport Al BateenThe American basketball star was sold to Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer. He was currently incarcerated in an Illinois federal prison.
The six-foot-nine WNBA star is shown in line for food, dining together with another prisoner, making a very narrow bed, and making a meal.
Also, footage showed Griner’s short hair in a white wrap while she worked at the penal colony. This footage was taken on November 28th, just a day after Griner signed papers for release.
Russian penal colonies were described as a hellhole with overworked prisoners and’slave-like conditions’.
Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, said it’s like ‘a friendly concentration camp,’ after he was kept in a Russian penal colony about 50 miles from Moscow. He He also mentioned that the ever-present cameras of police and policing reminded his of 1984, George Orwell’s novel.
Last month, Navalny said he was moved to indefinite solitary confinement.
Bout was being held at United States Penitentiary Marion in Illinois. He had five more years on his sentence.
The footage showed him smiling and laughing on the plane ride home.
Russian state television broadcast footage of Brittney Griner’s time in a Russian penal colony. They’re showing that they fed Brittney Griner during her imprisonment.
Brittney Griner is shown with another inmate while she is held at a Russian penal colonies
Brittney Griner is shown making a very narrow and short bed for her six-foot-nine foot frame
Russian state TV footage showed images showing Brittney Griner in her bed
Brittney Griner can also be seen working while in Russian penal colony
The footage was shot on November 28th, one day before footage that was released Thursday showed her signing papers. It was unclear at the time if she knew that she was being released.
Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer, was being held in United States Penitentiary Marion, Illinois. He had five years remaining on his sentence
Inside United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, where Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was serving his sentence before being swapped for Brittney Griner
Griner smiled when she was told she was returning home.
Griner is seen with her head shaved, signing papers at the Russian Gulag where she had been held since August. Then, she emerges from the prison with bags.
The date that the videos were taken into custody is November 29.
In an image taken today, she is seen on a plane. She is then told that she will be returning to America. She answered, “Happy” when asked her mood.
While the deal was a win for Griner (who was convicted of possessing 2 cartridges of cannabis oil during his February entry to Russia), it has been criticized as an embarrassing’surrender’ for the Biden administration.
Critics of the Republican Party see it as a gift for Putin and his war effort to win Ukraine. They view it as a grave indictment of Biden’s diplomatic track record and are horrified by Saudi Arabia’s involvement in negotiating.
The White House today denied that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved, but also thanked the UAE for the ‘use of their territory,’ in what seemed to be a conflicting statement.
Brittney Griner seen on a plane where she is told that she will be going back to the US. When asked what her mood was she replied: “Happy.”
After being released from US custody Viktor Bout, Merchant of Death, is seen riding his private jet.
Griner smiling above during a interaction with officials It’s not clear when she was informed she would be returning home.
Griner is seen signing papers November 29. It’s unclear if Griner knew at that point that she was going home.
The footage shows Bout stepping out of one jet and walking past Griner this morning.
Brittney Griner shakes hands with a UAE official on the tarmac of at Abu Dhabi today as she was swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in a deal brokered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Merchant of Death Bout appeared smiling. Griner is shown, right
Bout smiled as the war criminal made his way towards a jet that was waiting for him
Griner has not spoken out publicly, but Griner’s agents claim they were ‘breathing in a sigh relief’.
They praised Biden and stated that they were committed in getting Paul Whelan and other Americans out of prison overseas freed.
“Today, I am able to exhale a deep sigh. Brittney Griner is on the way home.
They said, “We are overwhelmed by gratitude to President Biden and Vice President Harris, and the entire Biden-Harris Administration,”
Griner was playing for a Russian club when she was arrested. It was a down-season for the WNBA, and Griner stood to make significantly more in Russia than in the US.
She He was found with two cartridges of cannabis oil in his vape, a violation of Russia’s strict drug laws, and was sentenced.
After After a short trial in Russian courts in the summer, she was sentenced for nine years.
Griner’s fans and celebrity acquaintances were shocked by the harsh sentence. Harris, Biden and Harris immediately pledged to bring Griner home.
It was quickly suggested that Bout could be swapped.
GOP critics quickly wondered why Griner – who violated the law and admitted to it – should not be freed.
Griner was questioned by some of the most vocal critics about why Griner should be traded for Paul Whelan, who has not been in prison since 2004. Biden insists that he is still trying for Whelan to be released.
The deal was brokered with Vladimir Putin, responsible for the genocide in Ukraine – and with the help of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, just 48 hours after the U.S. dropped a lawsuit holding him responsible for the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Paul Whelan (shown below in 2019), said that he was ‘disappointed” not to have been included today in the swap. He Four years in Russian prison for spying and espionage. The Biden administration calls these charges wrongful.
Biden celebrates with Griner’s wife Cherelle in the Oval Office after securing the WNBA star’s release from a Russian penal colony
From Left to Right: Cherelle, Biden and Kamala Harris. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Thursday morning’s White House address by President Joe Biden will discuss Brittney griner’s release as well as the current conditions of Americans detained abroad.
The news was met with anger from former Marine Paul Whelan’s supporters, who remain in Russian prison.
Republicans condemned the act as ‘unconscionable’, and stated that the White House was focusing on ‘celebrities” rather than veterans detained by Putin.
Whelan, speaking from prison, said that he was disappointed that the Biden administration had not done more to free Griner and that he was ready to “go home”.
Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, called it ‘unconscionable to leave Whelan behind’.
‘Merchant of Death – that’s the nickname of the prisoner Biden returned to Putin.
He He was convicted of conspiring against the murder of American law enforcement officers.
This is a gift to Vladimir Putin that could endanger American lives. It is unconscionable to leave Paul Whelan behind.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (an Illinois Republican and former Air Force pilot) also lamented.
We can celebrate the release of a basketball star, but what about Paul Whelan,
Kinzinger tweeted: “An American wrongly detained for many years.”
Although he may not be very well-known, he is innocent. This is a dangerous road,” the anti-Trump Republican said.
CNN spoke with John Bolton, former ambassador to the United States, who said that the deal was more like a surrender than a swap.
‘Obviously, Griner’s release was a matter of human emotion. However, this is a very poor mistake by the Biden government.
“This is not an offer. This is not a swap. This is a surrender. This is a surrender.
Griner was convicted and is being shown in August.