President Biden has freed a Russian international international arms dealer Viktor Bout at the cost of releasing an American citizen Brittney Griner who was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined 1,000,000 Russian rubles.
Griner, the WNBA star who was held for months in Russian prisons on drug charges, was released on Thursday in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout, bringing an end to an ordeal that sparked intense high-level negotiations between the U.S. and the Kremlin to secure her release.
WNBA star was released from a Russian prison as part of a prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout. However, Paul Whelan was left out of the deal, though President Biden vowed to keep working for his release.
Bout was arrested in Thailand in a 2008 sting operation and convicted in a U.S. court in 2012 for supplying weapons to a terrorist organization and conspiring to kill Americans. Russia called the charges “baseless and biased” and accused the U.S. of targeting Bout for political reasons.
Viktor Bout has been accused of supplying arms to Al Qaeda, the Taliban and rebels in Rwanda. His exploits helped inspire a 2005 film, “Lord of War,” that starred Nicolas Cage. While Africa may have been Bout’s primary focus, he was also active in other parts of the world. For example, he is believed to have sold weapons and equipment to both the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Northern Alliance that opposed it in the late 1990s.
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