Brittney Griner exchanged for Viktor Bout in Abu Dhabi

US basketball player Brittney Griner exchanged for Russian entrepreneur Viktor Bout

US  basketball player Brittney Griner, who was convicted in Russia of drug smuggling, was exchanged for Russian citizen Viktor Bout. The latter was convicted in the United States for illegal arms trade terror support, CNN reports. 

According to the network, Griner is currently in the custody of US officials on the way to the US. 

American national Paul Whelan, who was convicted of espionage in Russia, did not participate in the exchange. Whelan remains in a Russian colony. Griner's and Whelan's families were informed about the exchange, CNN said.

US President Joe Biden, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and Griner's wife spoke to the basketball player by phone.

In July 2022, Washington offered to exchange Bout for Americans Whelan and Griner who had been arrested in Russia. The entrepreneur has been in custody since 2008. It took Russian and American officials months to negotiate the issue. 

Viktor Bout returns to Russia

Russian entrepreneur Viktor Bout has returned to his homeland, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Viktor Bout was exchanged for US citizen Brittney Griner at Abu Dhabi airport.

Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 at Washington's request. In April 2012 the court sentenced him to 25 years in prison in a case of conspiracy to sell weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In the United States, this organisation is recognised as a terrorist group. The Russian pleaded not guilty.

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Author`s name Petr Ermilin
Editor Dmitry Sudakov