Putin says other swaps with US 'possible' after Griner-Bout exchange

The American basketball player was released from a Russian prison in exchange for Viktor Bout who was sentenced to 25 years behind bars in the US



Reuters
Reuters
FILE PHOTO: U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, sits inside a defendants' cage after the court's verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, sits inside a defendants' cage after the court's verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/File Photo

By AFP

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 7:55 PM

Last updated: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 9:37 PM

Russia President Vladimir Putin said Friday that other prisoner swaps with Washington were possible after Moscow exchanged US basketball star Brittney Griner for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.

"Are other (exchanges) possible? Yes, everything is possible. This is the result of negotiations and the search for compromises. In this case, compromises were found and we aren't refusing to continue this work in the future," Putin told reporters during a press conference in the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Meanwhile, Griner arrived in the United States on Friday morning after being released from a Russian prison in exchange for Bout.

Griner, 32, who was arrested in Russia in February on drug charges, was seen by an AFP reporter walking across a runway after her plane landed in San Antonio, Texas.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told NBC that Griner was in "very good spirits when she got off the plane and appeared to be obviously in good health."

Griner will now be taken to a nearby military facility to make sure she has "all the access she needs to health care workers just to make sure that she is OK," Kirby said.

Griner was exchanged on Thursday for Bout.

In footage released by Russian state media, Griner, shorn of her distinctive dreadlocks, and a relaxed and animated Bout crossed paths on the airport tarmac and headed towards the planes that would take them home.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, WNBA champion arrested at a Moscow airport against a backdrop of soaring tensions over Ukraine.

She was accused of possessing vape cartridges with a small quantity of cannabis oil and sentenced in August to nine years in prison.

Bout, who was accused of arming rebels was detained in a US sting operation in Thailand in 2008, extradited to the United States and sentenced in 2012 to 25 years behind bars.

While Griner's family and friends celebrated her release, another American held in Russia, former US Marine Paul Whelan, detained since 2018 and accused of spying, was not part of Thursday's exchange.

Russia President Vladimir Putin said Friday that other prisoner swaps with Washington were possible.

"This is the result of negotiations and the search for compromises. In this case, compromises were found and we aren't refusing to continue this work in the future," Putin told reporters during a press conference in Kyrgyzstan.

At the time of her arrest, Griner had been playing for a professional team in Russia, as a number of WNBA players do in the off-season.

She pleaded guilty to the charges against her, but said she did not intend to break the law or use the banned substance in Russia.

Griner testified that she had permission from a US doctor to use medicinal cannabis to relieve pain from her many injuries.

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