Russia would free Brittney Griner in exchange for ‘merchant of death’ prisoner
Author: Lily Wakefield
Brittney Griner waits for the verdict inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow. (Getty)
A top official has said that Russia would release basketball star Brittney Griner in exchange for Viktor Bout, known as the “merchant of death”.
The queer two-time Olympic gold medallist was arrested in February on drug charges after Russian officers at Moscow airport reportedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
Griner has said that she was prescribed the medication for chronic pain, and did not intend to break the law. Nevertheless, she was sentenced to nine years in prison, a sentence which was upheld at appeal.
According to the New York Times, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the media on Friday (18 November) that Russia and the US were negotiating and “working professionally along the specifically designated channel”.
He continued: “We have yet to arrive at a common denominator, but there is no doubt that Viktor Bout is among those discussed. We are definitely counting on a positive outcome.”
Bout is a Russian arms dealer who was arrested in Thailand in 2008, before being extradited to the US to serve his 25-year sentence.
He is nicknamed the “merchant of death” as he was accused of conspiring to sell weapons to the Colombian militant guerrilla group FARC, which authorities said would be used against US forces in Colombia. Russia has repeatedly tried to secure Bout’s release.
Brittney Griner was moved to a remote penal colony
The latest discussion around a prisoner exchange comes less than two weeks after it was revealed that Brittney Griner had been transferred to a remote penal colony in Russia.
According to The Guardian, Griner’s legal team said that her whereabouts and final destination are unknown.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US had made a “significant offer” to Russia in order to resolve the “wrongful detentions”, adding: “Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long.
“As the administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the president has directed the administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony.
“The US Government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia.
Actual Story on Pink News
Author: Lily Wakefield