WNBA Star Brittney Griner Released from Russian Custody in Prisoner Swap

Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian jail in a prisoner swap, after spending nearly 10 months in custody.

The WNBA star, 32, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on drug smuggling charges, was released in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout on Thursday, CBS News reported, citing a U.S. official.

NBC News reports President Joe Biden signed off on the trade, which took place in the United Arab Emirates. Biden, 80, who is expected to give remarks later Thursday morning, also tweeted: "Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home," alongside photographs of himself, Vice President Kamala Harris and Griner's wife, Cherelle.

Griner is currently in the custody of American officials, a U.S. official told CNN. Paul Whelan, another American who remains jailed in Russia, was not included in the swap, the outlet said.

RELATED: Everything to Know About Viktor Bout, the Russian Arms Dealer Involved in the Brittney Griner Swap

Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States during team warm up before the France V USA Preliminary Round Group B Basketball Women match at the Saitama Super Arena during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 2, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States during team warm up before the France V USA Preliminary Round Group B Basketball Women match at the Saitama Super Arena during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 2, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty

The exchange agreement between Griner and Bout was recently negotiated with Moscow and was given final approval by Biden last Thursday, five former U.S. officials told CBS News.

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US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.
US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on August 4, 2022. - Lawyers for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is standing trial in Russia on drug charges, said on July 26, 2022 they hoped she would receive a "lenient" sentence.

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Brittney Griner

RELATED: Russian Penal Colony Where Brittney Griner Is Living Out Her 9-Year Sentence Is 'Not a Good Place'

Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison on Aug. 10, just below the maximum allowed sentence of 10 years. Griner's lawyers said at the time, in a statement shared with PEOPLE, that the verdict is "absolutely unreasonable" and said they will "certainly file an appeal."

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