Speed Reads

behind the scenes

Official shares details on Brittney Griner's flight back to the U.S.

During her 18-hour flight back to the United States, WNBA star Brittney Griner spoke about what it was like in captivity and the time she spent at a Russian penal colony, Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, said on Sunday.

Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow airport after authorities discovered cartridges with cannabis oil in her suitcase. ​​​Carstens told CNN's State of the Union that Griner boarded a U.S. government plane bound for San Antonio and said, "I have been in prison for 10 months now, listening to Russian. I want to talk." She then introduced herself to the crew members, shaking their hands and asking for their names. Carstens said he estimates Griner "spent 12 hours just talking, and we talked about everything under the sun."

Carstens, the country's top hostage negotiator, did not go into detail over what Griner shared about her time in Russia, but said he "was left with the impression this is an intelligent, 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."

Griner was released on Thursday in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in an Illinois prison after being convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and officials and delivery of anti-aircraft missiles.