CNN: US wants to trade Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner

The administration of US President Joe Biden is offering to exchange Russian Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for illegal arms trafficking, for Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan detained in Russia, CNN reports , citing sources.

The publication notes that this is contrary to the position of the US Department of Justice, which opposes the exchange of prisoners in general.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is reportedly planning to hold exchange talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the coming days. He also plans to discuss a deal on the supply of Ukrainian grain.

Paul Whelan was arrested in Russia on charges of espionage, and basketball player Brittney Griner for drug possession.

In February, Greiner, who arrived from New York, was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport. During the inspection of hand luggage, vapes with a liquid with a specific smell were found in her. The examination found that there was hash oil inside. The UK opened a criminal case on drug smuggling, which provides for up to ten years in prison.

Greiner is one of the most titled basketball players in the world. She was a two-time Olympian and a two-time world champion with Team USA, and a WNBA champion with Phoenix in 2014. She is included in the official list of the 25 best players in the women's NBA. She has been playing for the Yekaterinburg UMMC since 2015.

From a pre-trial detention center near Moscow, the basketball player wrote a letter to US President Joe Biden asking him to "do everything possible" for her release. “Sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts, without the protection of a wife, family, friends, an Olympic uniform, without any achievements, I am afraid that I can stay here forever,” she wrote in a letter, excerpts from which were shared its representatives.

Biden responded to Greiner's letter and has already prepared a written response, CNN reported .

The president called Greiner Scherel's wife to reassure her that he was working to get Brittney, as well as other US citizens, released as soon as possible, and offered full support to the detainee's family while his administration "uses every opportunity to bring Brittney home." The possible exchange of Greiner for Booth has already been reported earlier.

Paul Whelan was detained on December 28, 2018, according to the prosecution, "while conducting a spy operation." The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under the article "espionage". It provides for punishment in the form of imprisonment for a term of 10 to 20 years. According to the lawyer, a flash drive was confiscated from Whelan, which contained information constituting a state secret. At the same time, Whelan believed that the flash drive contained personal information about his previous visits to the Russian Federation, but he did not have time to get acquainted with its contents.

Whelan's brother told CNN that he flew to Moscow on Dec. 22 for the wedding of a friend, a former Marine, and a Russian woman. He added that the detainee previously served in the US Marine Corps and was on business trips in Iraq several times, and most recently worked for the American company BorgWarner, which supplies car parts. The company clarified that Whelan is responsible for the security of its facilities in the US state of Michigan and other places around the world.

According to The Washington Post, Whelan was fired from the U.S. military in 2008 after being caught stealing several times. He has served in the US Marine Corps since 1994. Acquaintances of the American said that he had come to Russia several times since 2007. Rosbalt, citing a source in the Russian special services, wrote that Whelan was detained in the Metropol hotel room when he received a flash card with a list of all employees of one of the secret Russian departments.

Viktor Bout was detained in 2008 in Bangkok on a warrant issued by a local court at the request of the United States. He was accused of illegally supplying weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia group. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined $15 million.

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