American basketball star Brittney Griner was freed in a prisoner exchange, a U.S. official said.
She was held in Russia after her conviction in August, Sentenced to nine years in prison.
Ms Greener She was detained in February after customs agents said they found vaping canisters containing marijuana oil in luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
The WNBA star was released in exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, dubbed the “merchant of death.”
president joe biden Said he had spoken to Ms Griner and she was “safe” and “on her way home”.
She will be flown to a medical facility in San Antonio, Texas, where she will also meet with his wife Cheryl.
President Biden said Ms. Greiner had been held in “intolerable circumstances” and had endured “terrible ordeal.”
“I’m delighted to be able to say that Britney is in good spirits. It’s a relief that she can finally go home.”
Ms Greener “represents the best of America,” he added.
President Biden stresses America has not forgotten Paul Whelana former U.S. Marine, remains in Russian custody.
A senior U.S. official said the administration did everything it could to get Paul Whelan out, but “they treated him differently. They said he was a spy case. They said the choice was [Griner] or not. “
He made no mention of the price the US paid for Ms Griner’s freedom – the release of convicted arms dealer Bout.
Ms Griner’s wife, Cherelle, said she was “overwhelmed” after experiencing “one of the darkest moments of my life”.
“So today my family is complete, but as you all know, there are many other families that are not complete.”
According to the Russian foreign ministry, the exchange between Greener and Bute took place at the Abu Dhabi airport.
“The Russian citizen has returned to his home country,” it said in a statement.
Pressure in Washington on Griner case
For nearly two decades, Bout was one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers, selling arms to rogue states, rebel groups and murderous warlords in Africa, Asia and South America.
The Russian government has been keen to bring him back since his arrest in an elaborate U.S. sting.
Biden authorized Bout’s release, underscoring escalating pressure on his administration to bring Ms Griner home, especially with the recent settlement of her criminal case and her subsequently transferred to exile.
Ms Griner’s detention widely condemned by activists including former NBA star Dennis Rodman, who says he plans to fly to Russia For the release of American basketball players.
The Texas-born athlete revealed her fears that she could go to jail “forever” in a letter to President Joe Biden on Fourth of July.
She wrote: “…if I sat in a Russian prison, thinking alone, without the protection of a wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or achievement of any kind, I was terrified that I might be here forever.
“On the Fourth of July, our family often honors those who fought for our freedom, including my father, a Vietnam Veteran.
“It hurts to think about how I usually celebrate this day because being free means something completely different to me this year.”