Biden Administration has offered Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in exchange for Brittney Griner
The Biden administration has offered a trade Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, per CNN.
Brittney Griner has been detained for 160 Days
The Biden Administration has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Viktor
bout for Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
The statement marked the first time the U.S. government has publicly revealed any concrete action it has taken to secure the release of Griner, who was arrested on drug-related charges at a Moscow airport in February and testified Wednesday at her trial.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the United States has made a “substantial proposal” to Russia to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and jailed American Paul Whelan. The announcement came hours after Griner faced the most crucial moment yet in her Moscow trial on drug charges, giving evidence to a judge in a bid for leniency.
Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” is serving 25 years in a US prison after he was convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to kill US citizens, providing aid to a terrorist organization, and other charges.
Griner faces 10 years in prison in a case that has further strained U.S.-Russian relations, already badly damaged by the war in Ukraine. Blinken added that he would speak to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a significant break from his past strategy of avoiding contact with senior Russian officials and seeking maximum isolation of Moscow.
Griner began her testimony Wednesday by describing her arrest at a Moscow airport in February after customs officials found two cannabis vape cartridges in her baggage. Speaking to the court through an interpreter, she said that her rights were not read to her when she was taken into custody, which is required under Russian law.