Brittney Griner, an incarcerated American basketball player, was traded to Russia for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, who had been detained in an American jail for 12 years.
President Joe Biden approved the transfer recently, according to sources, CBS said.
Griner was detained in February at a Moscow airport for having cannabis oil, and he was transferred to a prison camp last month.
In a tweet, Vice President Biden stated that he had spoken to Griner and that she was on her way home and safe.
Knowing that Moscow had long demanded Bout’s release, the Biden administration proposed a prisoner exchange in July of last year.
The swap was verified by Russia’s foreign ministry, and Russian media outlets stated that Abu Dhabi was the location.
Bout’s sentence of 25 years in prison was commuted when President Biden signed the order releasing him.
Viktor Bout became one of the most sought persons in the world after providing weapons to warlords and unsavory governments.
The 2005 Hollywood film Lord of War, loosely based on his life, was inspired by the exploits of the Russian, who was known as the “merchant of death” for smuggling guns in the years following the fall of the Soviet Union.
That year, an intricate US sting operation resulted in his arrest at a hotel in Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok, angering the Russian government and putting an end to his clandestine career.
After being sent to the United States two years later, he has been imprisoned there for the past 12 years for planning to support terrorists and kill Americans.
The US clearly wanted former marine Paul Whelan to be released when talks to secure Griner’s release started in the summer. However, Whelan, who Russia accuses of spying, was not mentioned as a part of the prisoner trade.
President Biden tweeted a photo of himself, Cherelle Griner, and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office.