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Biden hostage case chief calls Brittney Griner a ‘patriotic person’

The Biden official who met WNBA player Brittney Griner on the plane after being released from a Russian prison says she is a “very patriotic person.”

US Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens met Griner on the plane and described him to CNN. State of the Union host Dana Bash what the reunion and flight home was like after Griner finally escaped the Russian penal colony to which she was sentenced, Fox News reported.

US Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, holds a photo of her team as she stands inside a defendant’s cage before a hearing in Khimki, outside Moscow. , August 4, 2022. (EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Carstens claimed that when Griner boarded the plane after being swapped for a dangerous arms dealer on the tarmac of a Russian airport, he told her she could ‘have her space’ during the flight if she wanted to. Instead, Griner was exuberant and said she wanted to meet and talk to every person on the plane who helped get her home.

Carstens added, “And she walked right past me and went up to all the members of this crew, looked them in the eye, shook their hands and asked about them, got their names. She established a personal connection with them. It was really amazing.

Griner was convicted of importing illegal drugs into Russia in August, months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport for having cannabis oil in a vape cartridge in her luggage. She was sentenced to 9½ years for her crime.

Griner tried to appeal his sentence of more than nine years in prison, but the Russian court rejected his attempt to get out of the sentence.

Carstens told CNN that Griner was thrilled to be on the plane.

“I felt like he was a smart, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting, patriotic, but most importantly genuine person,” Carstens added. “I hate that I had to meet her in this way, but I truly felt blessed to have had the chance to know her.”

Some Americans may have a hard time understanding how Griner can be considered a “patriotic person,” given the fact that she refused to respect the country during the national anthem at her professional women’s basketball games.

In July 2020, for example, Griner told sports media, “I honestly think we shouldn’t play the national anthem during our season. I think we should take that position.

Biden hostage case chief calls Brittney Griner a 'patriotic person'

Phoenix Mercury fan Carley Givens takes a photo of a ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural depicting Brittney Griner in front of the Footprint Center on December 08, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. WNBA player Brittney Griner has been freed after being held in Russia since February as part of a prisoner exchange involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Even if the league decides to play the anthem, Griner said she will stand with the others against the country anyway.

“I’m going to protest anyway. I won’t be there for the national anthem,” she said. “If the league continues to want to play, that’s fine. It will be the whole season. I won’t be there. I have a feeling others will probably do the same. I can only speak for myself.”

Biden’s deal to secure Griner’s release has drawn bipartisan criticism, however, as a lopsided deal. After all, Russia got a dangerous arms dealer who was a convicted terrorist, and the United States got a drug-addicted basketball player who used to speak out against his own country.

Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D, NJ) was one of the critics who slammed the trade, calling it “deeply troubling.”

“The Russians and other regimes that take American citizens hostage cannot claim that there is an equivalence between the Brittney Griners of the world and people like Viktor Bout, the so-called ‘merchant of death’. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we cannot ignore that releasing Bout to the world is a deeply troubling decision,” Menendez said Thursday. “We must stop inviting dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans abroad as bargaining chips, and we must try to do better to encourage American citizens not to travel to places like Russia where they are the main targets of this type of illegal detention.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at:, or Truth Social @WarnerToddHuston

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