White House Disputes Saudi, UAE Involvement Claims In Brittney Griner's Release From Russia

The U.S. disputed Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.'s joint claims on Thursday that the Middle-Eastern nations were involved in mediation efforts to release American basketball star Brittney Griner from detainment in Moscow.

What Happened: The White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, in a media briefing, said, "the only countries that negotiated this deal were the United States and Russia."

See Also: Trump Fuming Over Brittney Griner’s Release From Russian Prison, Obama Is Celebrating

This came after the U.A.E.'s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement, touted the success of mediation efforts led by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the release of Griner. 

The comments from Jean-Pierre marked a sharp disconnect from what the gulf nation said in a statement. "there was no mediation involved," the White House press secretary added. 

Although she offered U.S. gratitude to the U.A.E. for facilitating the exchange on their territory and expressed gratefulness to Saudi Arabia for raising the issue, Jean-Pierre reiterated that "when it comes to her release, it was between the U.S. government and Russia."

President Joe Biden on Thursday formally announced the release of Griner from prison in Russia, where she was held for the past 10 months on charges of possessing some cannabis oil, which was legally prescribed to her in the United States.

Griner was exchanged for the convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, a former K.G.B. officer and a personal friend of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, being known as the "Merchant of Death."

Biden also extended his thanks to the U.A.E. "because that's where she landed."

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsSportsGlobalGeneralBrittney GrinerEurasiaJoe BidenSaudi ArabiaUAEVladimir PutinWhite House