An exchange of prisoners between Washington and Moscow. The basketball player against the merchant of death

US President Joe Biden announced Thursday that basketball player Brittney Graner, detained in Russia since February, is “safe” and “in trip” to the United States after a prisoner exchange with Moscow.

“she is safe”

“I spoke to Brittney Grainer a few moments ago. She is safe and on a plane bound for the United States,” Biden said on Twitter.

For its part, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday the exchange of Russian prisoner Viktor Bout for American basketball player Brittney Grainer.

The story of his arrest

The 31-year-old American is detained in Russia since February after Moscow airport officials found cannabis oil in his luggage as he was on his way back to the US after gambling in Russia.

While Victor Bout, one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers, is convicted in the United States of smuggling Russian weapons.

“Merchant of Death”

Bout, a former Soviet Air Force officer, is so infamous that it inspired Hollywood to make a film about him, and that reputation has also given him the fearsome nickname “Death Dealer.”

Bot was extradited from Thailand to the United States in 2010 after an operation by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) two years earlier.

Viktor Bout is believed to have graduated from the Moscow Institute of Military Studies in the early 1990s and was a major in the KGB.

Human Rights Watch also said in a 2005 report that Bout was “the foremost foreign businessman in violation of the arms embargo by transporting weapons from countries such as Bulgaria, Slovakia and Ukraine”.

Bout, a Russian citizen born in Soviet-ruled Tajikistan, began his career in aviation in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union.

“Assistant” of a foreign head of state

The United Nations considered him an aide to former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was convicted in 2012 of aiding and abetting war crimes during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

“Bout is a businessman, dealer and transporter of weapons and minerals who supported former President Taylor’s regime in its attempt to destabilize Sierra Leone and illegally obtain diamonds,” the UN documents said.

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