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WNBA player Brittney Griner traveled to Russia where she was arrested for carrying cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage. The crime of drug possession and smuggling carries a penalty of 10 years in prison.
Griner was stopped at a Russian airport and later pled guilty to the charges.
At the center of a proposed swap for Brittney Griner is Viktor Bout, likely the highest profile Russian in U.S. custody. He has been called "one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers," and Russian officials have been pressing for his release since 2011.https://t.co/DIGhteAACI pic.twitter.com/FPeEQdCXZZ
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 28, 2022
To gain her freedom, Joe Biden is offering to trade notorious Russian terrorist arms dealer Viktor Bout who is serving a 25-year sentence in a U.S. prison.
Bout, who inspired the movie “Lord of War” starring Nicholas Cage, was found guilty of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to deliver anti-aircraft missiles, and aiding a terrorist organization.
He offered $20 million in weapons to a narco-terrorist group called Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The Biden administration has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, per @CNN
Griner has been detained for 160 days. pic.twitter.com/iGcpT8P07v
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 27, 2022
This “breathtaking arsenal of weapons” included hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and sniper rifles. He also offered 10 million rounds of ammunition and five tons of plastic explosives.
Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” was captured in a sting operation carried out by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informants in Bangkok, Thailand.
In addition to receiving Griner, the trade would also free 52-year-old retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan who was arrested in 2018 in Russia on espionage charges.
Whelan was found guilty and sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years of “hard labor” in a Russian prison.
More on this story via Fox News:
The Russian state-owned news agency TASS originally reported in May that talks are underway to exchange Bout for Griner.
Russian officials see Bout as a “high-value asset” and are likely pushing hard for the exchange, according to former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler.
“Moscow wants him back because he possesses critical insights that he can share with the GRU, his former agency. Having been in a U.S. prison and interrogated by U.S. officials, he knows what our intelligence requirements are and other information that is valuable for the Russians,” Koffler, the author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital.
“It would be a big mistake for the U.S. to give up Viktor Bout, as much as one feels compassion for Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan.”
The Biden administration confirmed Wednesday that it has made a “substantial proposal” to help free Griner and Whelan.
“The U.S. government continues to work aggressively, pursuing every avenue, to make that happen and as part of those efforts we made a substantial proposal to bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home,” a White House spokesperson told Fox News on Wednesday.