Basketball Star and Russian Prisoner Freed


     On December 8, 2022, the world was informed that former WNBA star and Russian prisoner Brittney Griner would be released and sent home in exchange for Russian arms dealer and U.S. prisoner, Viktor Bout. 

     Griner had been imprisoned in Russia for bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oils into the country in February of 2022 and then spent nine months in prison before being released. Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death,” was a long time arms dealer before he was lured to Thailand by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for a fake arms deal. He was put in jail in 2010 and was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for acquiring and exporting anti-aircraft missiles and conspiring to kill Americans.

     Former Marine and Russian prisoner Paul Whelan was unfortunately left out of the prisoner swap, even though he was allegedly part of the deal. Whelan was arrested in 2018 in Moscow by Russian forces who accused Whelan of being part of a reconnaissance operation. However, it is encouraging that the U.S. and Russia were able to cooperate in this act of diplomacy and hopefully will work together more in the future.

Basketball star Brittney Griner. (Creative Commons)