In 2011, Viktor Bouta well-known Russian arms dealer, received a 25 year sentence in federal court on several charges, including conspiracy to assassinate U.S. citizens and officials, transporting anti-aircraft missiles and supporting a terrorist organization. However, in 2022 he was released via a prisoner exchange for an American basketball player Brittney Griner.
Griner, who plays for the WNBA team on Phoenix Mercury, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport by customs officers on February 17, 2022, who claimed to have discovered cannabis in vape cartridges in her bags. She was on her way to play for UMMC Yekaterinburg, a Russian women’s professional basketball team, during the WNBA offseason.
Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to nine years in prison. sentence in a Russian prison.
After lobbying efforts by President Biden, the WNBA and the NBA, a prison exchange deal was reached for his release. Part of the deal was Victor Bout, who was closely following the case from a federal prison in Marion, Illinois.
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Bout can “relate” to Griner
In his interview With ESPN, Bout said he knew he was being traded for the WNBA star when guards came to his cell with boxes the morning of his release.
Bout remembers being woken up by the guards knocking on his cell phone and telling him, “Wake up and pack your bags, you’re leaving.” »
In his first exclusive interview with US media, Bout said he had a connection to Griner and understood the hardships she endured while incarcerated.
“I feel bad or sorry for anyone who is going to be used as a pawn, whether they did something or not,” Bout told ESPN.
Bout revealed that he had a brief exchange with Griner on the tarmac during the exchange and that he “wished him well” as they shook hands.
Brittney Griner and the last of the Phenix Mercury game of the 2023 regular season will take place on Sunday, September 10 at 12:00 p.m. PT against the Las Vegas Aces.