Griner; according to President Joe Biden, is safe and on his way home from the United Arab Emirates. “I’m glad to report that Brittney is in great spirits… she requires time and space to heal,” he remarked at the White House.
According to Russian media, Bout, also known as the “merchant of death,” has returned to Moscow.
“They simply woke me up in the middle of the night and said, ‘Get your things together,’ and that was all,” Bout stated to a reporter from national television after landing in Russia.
Griner in Moscow
Griner was detained for having cannabis oil at a Moscow airport in February, and she was transferred to a prison camp last month.
In July, the Biden administration suggested a prisoner swap, knowing that Moscow had long demanded Bout’s release.
Two private planes flew the pair from Moscow and Washington to Abu Dhabi airport for the elaborate swap and then flew them back home.
Along with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a key role in the mediation efforts.
The Saudi heir to the throne enjoys good ties with Vladimir Putin of Russia, and in September he assisted in organizing a complicated exchange of hundreds of captives held by Russia and Ukraine.
However, the White House insisted that no mediation had taken place. According to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “The United States and Russia were the only nations that negotiated this accord.”
Bout’s 25-year prison sentence was finally commuted by President Biden, who also directly swapped Brittney for Bout.
Alla, Bout’s wife, claimed on Russian TV that she had only spoken to him two days prior: “He was slated to give me a call tonight. We’ll now meet up and give each other hugs. Better than any phone call, that.”
Viktor Bout became one of the most sought persons in the world after providing weapons to warlords and unsavory governments.
The 2005 Hollywood film Lord of War, which was largely based on his life, was inspired by the activities of the Russian, who was known as the “merchant of death” for smuggling guns in the years following the fall of the Soviet Union.
An intricate US sting operation that year resulted in his arrest at a hotel in Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok, angering the Russian government, and putting an end to his clandestine career.
He was extradited two years later, and for the past 12 years, he has been imprisoned in the United States for planning to aid terrorists and kill Americans.
Bout’s situation is very different from that of his counterpart in the prisoner swap.
One of the most well-known sportswomen in America is Brittney Griner, 32. The two-time Olympic champion plays center for Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA during the US basketball season.
Why was Brittney Grinner in Russia
Her sole purpose in traveling to Moscow was to play during the US off-season in Russia. She claimed at her Russian trial that the marijuana oil discovered in her suitcase was an “honest mistake.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken particularly up the efforts of Roger Carstens, the presidential representative who traveled with Griner from the UAE, in his remarks.
Leading US basketball figures, including two-time WNBA champion Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm, hailed her release.
Last month, Griner was transferred to a penitentiary camp in Mordovia, a secluded region located 500 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of Moscow. She was detained not far from the prison where spying defendant Paul Whelan is receiving a 16-year sentence.
President Biden claimed that Russia had treated Whelan’s case differently than Griner’s for wholly unjustified grounds in his statement.
While we haven’t yet been able to secure Paul’s release, he swore, “We haven’t given up; we won’t give up.”
He declared in a statement that “it’s obvious the US administration needs to be more proactive.” “The United States needs a quicker, more direct response if evil actors like Russia are going to seize innocent Americans.”
Russia and the US have exchanged prisoners before this year, including on Thursday. Before being exchanged for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot found guilty of smuggling cocaine, last April, US Marine Trevor Reed served three years in prison for assault.
Speaking from a Russian jail colony, Paul Whelan claimed that because he had been charged with spying, Russia “placed me at a level higher than what they did with Trevor and Brittney.”
Before their international journey, Americans were cautioned by Vice President Biden to exercise caution and be aware of the possibility of being unlawfully imprisoned by a foreign government.