Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is also known as the “Merchant of Death,” will be released in exchange for the WNBA’s Brittney Griner.
Griner has been in a Russian prison since her arrest for illegal substances, as a result, she was handed a 9-year prison sentence just over 210 miles from Moscow.
The move to exchange Bout for Griner has been controversial, as many see the move as the United States folding to Russian demands. The critics of the move may have a point, as earlier this year, the same prisoner exchange was requested by Russia and was denied. Just a few months later, the United States folded and decided to exchange Bout, an international arms trafficker for Giner, who has vape cartridges that were alleged to contain THC, an oil-based form of the component that achieves a high in marijuana. Now, Russia gets an arms dealer back with a career so hellish it inspired multiple films, and the United States gets only someone who would’ve been convicted for a misdemeanor drug offense in the majority of other countries, if tried at all.
Bout was serving a 25-year-long prison sentence following his capture in Thailand in a Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation that spanned three continents in 2008. He would eventually be convicted of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and officials, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, and providing aid to a terrorist organization in 2011.
Griner had been in prison for nearly 10 months, and word of Griner being forced to work hard labor jobs while in Russian prison.
Griner has had an exceptional basketball career, and has solidified her position as one of the exceptional female basketball players of all time, as she’s one of only eleven women to receive an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA championship, a FIBA World Cup gold medal, and a WNBA championship.