Russia admits talks to exchange Brittney Griner: diplomat

Russia has admitted it is in talks with the US to swap a notorious arms dealer for basketball player Brittney Griner, a Russian diplomat has said.

The diplomat’s comments marked the first time Russia said it was in talks to swap Griner for 55-year-old Viktor Bout, who is reportedly in prison in the US.

“Discussions on the very sensitive issue of an exchange are going through the channels chosen by our presidents,” Alexander Datchiev, head of the North America department at Russia’s foreign ministry, was quoted as saying by the state news agency TASS. “The quiet diplomacy continues and should bear fruit if, of course, Washington is careful not to indulge in propaganda.”

Griner, 31, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after vape cartridges containing a small amount of cannabis oil were found in her luggage. Griner was charged with drug smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this month.

The suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout has a nickname "The Merchant of Death."
Alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout is nicknamed the “Dealer of Death”.
AFP via Getty Images
Brittney Griner exits the courtroom after being sentenced to nearly a decade in prison on August 4.
Brittney Griner exits the courtroom after being sentenced to nearly a decade in prison on August 4.
AFP via Getty Images

President Biden earlier this month said he was “hopeful” that Russia would liberate the basketball star, an eight-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Bout, dubbed the “dealer of death” for supplying arms to conflicts in Africa and Latin America, was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the United States. He was charged with supplying arms in some of the world’s worst conflicts and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012.

https://nypost.com/2022/08/13/russia-admits-to-talks-to-exchange-brittney-griner-diplomat/ Russia admits talks to exchange Brittney Griner: diplomat

JACLYN DIAZ

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