8:38 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, good morning, folks. And it is a good morning.
Moments ago, standing together with her wife, Cherelle, in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner. She’s safe. She’s on a plane. She’s on her way home.
After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back
in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.
This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release.
It took painstaking and intense negotiations, and I want to thank all the hardworking public servants across my administration who worked tirelessly to secure her release.
I also want to thank the UAE for helping us facilitate Brittney’s return, because that’s where she landed.
These past few months have been hell for Brittney and for
Charlee [Cherelle], and her entire family, and all her teammates back home.
People all across the country have learned about Brittney’s story, advocated for her release, stood with her throughout this terrible ordeal. And I know that support meant a lot to her family.
I’m glad to be able to say that Brittney is in good spirits. She — she’s relieved to finally be heading home. And the fact remains that she’s lost months of her life, experienced a needless trauma, and she deserves space, privacy, and time with her loved ones to recover and heal from her time being wrongfully detained.
Brittney is an incomparable athlete, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist for Team USA. She endured mistreatment and a show — at a show trial in Russia with characteristic grit and incredible dignity. She represents the best America — the best about America — just across the board, everything about her.
She wrote to me back in July. She didn’t ask for special treatment, even though we’ve been working on her release from the day one. She requested a simple, quote, “Please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.”
We never forgot about Brittney. And we’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for years. This was not a choice of which American to bring home. We brought home Trevor Reed when we had a chance earlier this year. Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet…