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U.S. Government Offers Arms Dealer in Trade for Griner, Whelan

  • WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for 160 days after a drug possession charge.
  • Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is serving a 25-year sentence in the United States
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The U.S. government has finally made a move to get WNBA superstar Brittney Griner home — but one that could cause more controversy.

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration reportedly offered imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and Paul Whelan, per CNN.

Griner has been notoriously detained in Russia for 160 days following her arrest for drug possession. Whelan was arrested for espionage in Moscow in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison in 2020.

Bout, on the other hand, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in an American prison for conspiring to sell weapons to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group in 2011.

The swap is largely seen as a departure from U.S. policy: the Justice Department generally opposes prisoner trades.

But several high-ranking officials — including reportedly president Joe Biden — have changed their views in recent weeks, seeing a Bout trade as the only way to get Griner and Whelan home.

Griner testified at her trial Wednesday that a Russian interpreter only translated a fraction of what was being said to her when she was arrested in February. Griner also said she was given no explanation of her rights at the time.

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