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Women’s basketball star Brittney Griner swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout
American basketball star Brittney Griner, sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony for carrying vape canisters and cannabis oil in her luggage, has been exchanged for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, reports CNN.
Paul Whelan, another American currently imprisoned in Russia, on espionage charges in his case, was left out of the prisoner swap. Whelan’s lawyer says that his client is still in a penal colony, and talks about exchanging him will continue.
The Russian Interior Ministry has confirmed that the exchange has taken place at the Abu-Dhabi airport. Bout is already in Russia.
U.S. President Joe Biden tweeted that he spoke with Griner: “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on the way home.” The Vice-President Kamala Harris and Griner’s spouse Cherelle Griner also talked with Brittney Griner on the phone.
The media report that President Biden will soon comment on the prisoner exchange.
The 55-year-old Viktor Bout was sentenced to 25 years in the United States for illegal arms dealing. Bout denies any guilt.
The 52-year-old Paul Whelan is a citizen of the United States, Ireland, Canada, and the UK. In June 22, Moscow Municipal Court sentenced him to 16 years in a high-security penal colony for espionage. Willan insists that he is innocent.
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