WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner has officially been released from a Russian prison in exchange for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout. The exchange between the United States and Russia happened in the neutral United Arab Emirates. The deal was originally supposed to include another American citizen, Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan. He has been in the Russian prison system for four years after being convicted of spying. President Joe Biden acknowledged Whelan during the press conference about Griner. He said that the Russians are treating Whelan’s case differently for some reason.
To call this deal an uneven exchange would be an understatement. Viktor Bout was, at one point, the most wanted man in the world. His nickname was the “Merchant of Death”. He armed civil conflicts in war-torn nations in the Middle East and Africa such as Liberia. The former President of Liberia during the time of Bout’s influence, Charles Taylor, is currently facing charges of war crimes. CBS 60 minutes did an entire special on Viktor Bout back in 2010 when he was arrested. Nicolas Cage appeared in a movie about Viktor Bout’s reign of terror called “Lord of War”.
A high-level prisoner like Viktor Bout in possession of the United States should have at least secured the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. However, it appears that the Biden administration was so desperate to get her released for political purposes that they agreed to this very bad deal.
Brittney Griner Is Freed in Prisoner Swap With Russia: Live Updates – The New York Times
Brittney Griner released from Russian prison
Brittney Griner freed in U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange
WNBA star Brittney Griner released from Russian custody in a high-profile prisoner swap between the U.S. and Moscow
Brittney Griner live updates: WNBA star swapped for Russian Viktor Bout in prisoner exchange – ABC News
Brittney Griner released by Russia in 1-for-1 prisoner swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout