Moscow negotiates the exchange of a Russian arms trafficker detained in the United States

Moscow is negotiating the exchange of a Russian arms trafficker detained in the United States

The exchange is& #x27;would notably perform with American basketball player Brittney Griner, accused of illegal possession of cannabis and sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia.

Viktor Bout upon his arrival in the United States, in 2010, after being extradited from Thailand to face charges of terrorism (archives).

A Russian diplomat confirmed on Saturday that Moscow and Washington were discussing a possible prisoner exchange involving in particular a Russian arms trafficker detained in the States States and American basketball player Brittney Griner, imprisoned in Russia.

The United States has repeatedly claimed to have made a substantial offer to secure the release of two Americans detained in Russia: basketball player Brittney Griner and former soldier Paul Whelan.

According to American media, it would be a question of exchanging them for a notorious Russian arms trafficker detained in the United States, Viktor Bout, nicknamed the Merchant of Death.

Mr. Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. His extraordinary journey was one of the inspirations for the film Lord of War in which Nicolas Cage plays a cynical arms dealer.

Discussions on the very sensitive subject of an exchange of [prisoners] are taking place through channels chosen by our presidents, said the director of the North America department at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Dartchiev.

The names quoted by the American press are indeed considered. Russia has been seeking the release of Viktor Bout for a long time, he added in an interview published Saturday by the Russian news agency Tass.

The " silent diplomacy" continues and should bear fruit if, of course, Washington […] is careful not to fall into propaganda, he added.

American basketball player Brittney Griner has been charged with illegal possession of cannabis and sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia.

This is the first time that Moscow has confirmed that discussions are taking place on a possible exchange involving Mr. Bout. The Kremlin has repeatedly criticized Washington for making public statements about the ongoing negotiations.

These discussions accelerated after the sentencing in early August of nine-year-old basketball player Griner jail for cannabis trafficking.

Brittney Griner, considered one of the best basketball players in the world, was arrested in February in Moscow in possession of a drug. a vaporizer containing cannabis-based liquid.

His case took on geopolitical significance in the context of the crisis between Moscow and Washington linked to the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

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