Griner, who had been sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony, was reportedly released in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year prison sentence.
The Olympic gold medalist was arrested at the Moscow airport on Feb. 17 after she was found to be in possession of two vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is a banned substance in Russia.
President Joe Biden posted a Tweet showing him in the presence of Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner, with a message saying they had spoken to the athlete and that she was safe and on her way home.
The pair then held a brief news conference at the White House.
Cherelle Griner thanked U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and political advisor Jake Sullivan for their efforts in getting her wife freed.
Griner’s release has stoked controversy, however, due to the fact that another U.S. citizen, corporate security exec Paul Whelan, remains in jail in Russia, where he is serving a 16-year term on spying changes.
Cherelle Griner alluded to the case while speaking at the news conference.
“Today, my family is whole but as you all are aware, there are so many other families who are not whole and so BG is not here to say this, but I will flatly speak on her behalf and say that BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today as we celebrate BG coming home,” she said.
“We do understand that there are still people out there who are enduring what I endured for the last nine months, of missing tremendously their loved one.”