Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury Michael Hickey/Getty Images

After 293 days of being held in Russia, WNBA Star Brittney Griner will now return home.

On Thursday, Griner was exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout at an Abu Dhabi airport CBS News reported. This comes almost four weeks after Griner was sent to a penal colony to serve out a nine-year prison sentence.

According to U.S. officials, Biden ordered for Bout’s 25-year federal prison sentence to be cut short and for his return to Russia to secure Griner’s release. The deal was approved exactly a week ago.

Biden recently confirmed this with a tweet. He and Vice President Kamala Harris can be seen with Griner’s spouse, Cherelle Griner during what appears to be a phone conversation via speaker with Griner. Another shot shows Cherelle and President Biden joyfully embracing.

Unfortunately, Paul Whelan, who was also imprisoned in Russia on suspicion of being a spy was not released. The former Marine and businessman’s case gained national attention after being discussed in conjunction with Griner’s case.

“This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” Biden said while addressing the nation from the White House. “Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittany’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We are never giving up.”

On February 17, the 32-year-old was detained at a Moscow airport on her way back home when officials found two vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. From there, Griner was detained and highly restricted from having contact with loved ones.

“Today my family is whole but as you are all aware, there’s so many other families who are not whole,” Cherelle said after President Biden. "B.G. and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home, including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today.”

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