Brittney Griner, a famous American basketball player who had been imprisoned in Russia, was traded for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year term in the US, according to a confirmation from Moscow on Thursday.
The swap of Russian citizen Viktor Bout for American citizen Brittney Griner “was successfully conducted on December 8, 2022 at the Abu Dhabi airport,” according to a statement from the foreign ministry.
The US first “refused conversation” on include Bout in any swap, according to Moscow, which claimed that it had been in talks with Washington “for a long time” to obtain Bout’s release.
“However, the Russian Federation kept making efforts to save our colleague. The Russian national has been brought back to his country,” according to the defense ministry.
In 2012, Bout was found guilty of providing weapons to rebels in some of the worst conflicts in the world, and he was given a 25-year prison sentence in the US.
Griner, 32, was detained for possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil at a Moscow airport just prior to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine in February.
Her lawyers acknowledged the exchange occurred to AFP on Thursday.