FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers standing in a cage at a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 26, 2022. A Russian court has on Tuesday, Oct. 23 started hearing American basketball star Brittney Griner's appeal against her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)

Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who was held for months in Russian prisons on drug charges, was released Thursday in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to a U.S. official. The one-for-one exchange agreement negotiated with Moscow in recent weeks was given final approval byPresident Biden within just the last week, according to sources familiar with the deal. The swap took place on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates.

Five former U.S. officials told CBS News the agreement had been reached as of last Thursday.  

A White House official said President Biden was in the Oval Office Thursday morning on the phone, speaking with Griner and her wife, and that Vice President Kamala Harris was also in the room. Per standard procedure for freed U.S. prisoners, Griner was expected to quickly undergo a medical evaluation. 

To secure Griner’s release, the president ordered Bout to be freed and returned to Russia. Mr. Biden signed the commutation order cutting short Bout’s 25-year federal prison sentence. 

Notably, the Griner-for-Bout exchange leaves retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan imprisoned in Russia. Whelan has been in Russian custody for nearly four years. He was convicted on espionage charges that the U.S. has called false.

Griner was detained at a Russian airport in February and later pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the discovery of cannabis-derived oil cartridges in her luggage.   

After five months of stalled diplomacy and various permutations of potential swap arrangements — including a previously unreported offer by the U.S. this past summer to send two prisoners back to Russia for the two Americans — sources say the one-for-one exchange came together over the last two weeks.

It remains unclear what led to the breakthrough, but the Biden administration made at least one concession by agreeing to reduce the swap to one American for one Russian. 

FILE – US Basketball player Brittney Griner looks through bars as she listens to the verdict standing in a cage in a courtroom in Khimki, outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022 filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drugs possession. Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted on Aug. 4. She was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP, File)

At the end of November, the State Department blasted the Russian government for a failure to bargain in good faith.  As recently as Sunday, on CBS News “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said U.S. negotiators were “actively engaged” with their Russian counterparts.  

Asked by CBS News about reports of Russia’s desire for a one-for-one swap in spite of America’s hopes to return both Griner and Whelan, Blinken noted that any deal would be subject to mutual agreement. 

“The other side gets a vote in this. It’s not just what we want. It’s what they’re prepared to do,” Blinken said, without denying the Russian reports. However, he indicated the administration was continuing to push for the return of both Americans.

“One way or another, one day or another, we’re going to see that through,” he said. 

In July, the Biden administration said it had offered the Kremlin what it described as a “significant proposal” to bring both American prisoners home. The White House never publicly confirmed what the U.S. had offered, but privately, officials indicated to CBS News that initial news reports pointing to the potential for only Bout’s release were incorrect, and that the president was prepared to consider letting two Russian prisoners return in exchange for both Griner and Whelan’s freedom. 

Whelan, who once worked as a corporate security contractor, was in Moscow for a friend’s wedding when he was detained at a hotel in December 2018.  Russian authorities later sentenced him to 16 years in prison for espionage — a charge the U.S. and Whelan denied.  This month marks the fourth anniversary of Whelan’s time in Russian custody. 

Bout, who was most recently held at a federal prison in Marion, Illinois, was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency in Thailand following a sting operation in 2008. He was convicted of conspiring to kill Americans and began his 25-year sentence a decade ago.