Brittney Griner opened up about prison during her long flight home from Russia
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Earlier this month, Brittney Griner was freed from Russian jail in a prisoner exchange with notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Griner had been held behind bars for almost 10 months because cannabis oil was found in vaping canisters in her luggage, something Griner insisted was an accident, adding that they had been prescribed to her to treat chronic pain.
It’s now been revealed that Griner opened up about her time in prison during her flight back to the US, saying: “I have been in prison for 10 months now. I want to talk.”
Here she is learning she's flying back home in footage released by Russian state media:
According to Now This News, Roger Carstens - the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs who accompanied Griner home - said the basketball star also took the time to address everyone else on the plane, asking him: “But, first of all, who are these guys?”
Carstens continued: “And she moved right past me and went to every member on that crew, looked them in the eyes, shook their hands and asked about them, got their names, making a personal connection with them. It was really amazing.”
Carstens said that Griner spent 12 hours of the 18-hour flight speaking to other passengers - and even touched upon her ordeal.
Refusing to go into specific detail about what Griner said, Carsten added: “I was left with the impression this is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting person, a patriotic person.
“But above all, authentic. I hate the fact that I had to meet her in this manner, but I actually felt blessed having had a chance to get to know her.”
After arriving in Russia in February, Griner was jailed on drug charges and underwent a trial in July where she pleaded guilty but claimed she had no criminal intent when she brought the cannabis oil into the country.
She was ultimately sentenced to nine years in prison at a Russian penal colony over 200 miles east of Moscow.
President Joe Biden announced Griner’s release from prison this month after saying of Griner last month: “I’m telling you, I am determined to get her home and get her home safely — along with others, I might add."
Reports about the possibility of an exchange negotiation initially began a few months ago, though Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov at the time said 'there are no formal or procedural reasons to talk about any further steps’.
The Guardian reported on Sunday (11 December) that Griner was undergoing a health evaluation at a Texas army facility as part of her rehabilitation back into the USA.