Brittney Griner All-Stars Brittney Griner, during the media day at Phoenix Mercury. Uscp 75fs9aqovsk1nhdf77xl Original

Brittney Griner will officially be home on American soil by Christmas.

American president Joe Biden announced his controversial decision on Thursday to swap convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for imprisoned the imprisoned WNBA superstar who faced nine years in a maximum-security penal colony for women after attempting to bring medical hashish oil onto a domestic flight with her Russian Premier League team in January.

Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who works hostage situations around the world as part of his self-named foundation, said in October that he felt “optimistic” Griner would be freed by the end of the year.

Cameron Hume, a former ambassador who worked with Richardson in Moscow as part of the effort to free Griner, explained the decision to swap Bout for Griner while leaving former United States Marine Paul Whelan in Russian custody in an interview with Semafor.

“Bout did half of his sentence, like many other criminals,” Hume said. “He is not a threat to our security now. He has been held accountable. It made sense to give him up to bring BG home. As for Whelan, efforts for his release must go on undiminished.”

The family of Paul Whalen heralded the Biden Administration’s decision to free Griner.