February 9, 2023

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US basketball player Brittney Griner acquitted against Russian arms dealer – 09/12/2022 at 05:35

Basketball player Brittney Griner during her arrest in Russia, in Moscow on August 4, 2022 (AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Basketball player Brittney Griner during her arrest in Russia, in Moscow on August 4, 2022 (AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

American basketball star Brittney Griner is expected to be released from a Russian prison in the United States on Thursday night in exchange for an arms dealer nicknamed the “merchant of death.”

Brittney Griner, 32, who was arrested in Russia in February on drug-trafficking charges, and Victor Bode, 55, who is serving a 25-year sentence in a US prison, were transferred at the airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

In a Russian security service video released by TASS, a tall figure in a red jacket walks down the tarmac as a small, smiling man with a gray mustache walks up to meet him. The men in suits accompanying them greet each other on either side and head in opposite directions.

In images of the exchange, which looks straight out of the Cold War, the sportswoman appears with her hair cropped, without her usual long dreadlocks.

“I spoke with Britney Greiner a few minutes ago. She’s safe. She’s on a plane. She’s on her way to America,” US President Joe Biden said during a brief speech earlier at the White House.

The basketball player is expected overnight in the United States from Thursday to Friday. He is in “good spirits” despite enduring “shock,” the US president said.

In a statement, Brittney Greiner’s family said, “We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to President Biden and his administration for working tirelessly to bring Brittney home.”

– “Due Removal” –

In another video broadcast by the pro-Kremlin channel RT, we see Britney Griner leaving her convict colony bags in hand. “Do you think you’ll come back here one day?” a guard asked her in Russian. He asks.

FSB images show her boarding the plane in the snow, then leaving the cabin to make sure she’s “happy” and noting she doesn’t know where she’s being taken.

US President Joe Biden announces the release of basketball player Brittney Griner and his wife Cherelle Griner (d) in Washington, December 8, 2022 (AFP / Brendan Smialowski).

US President Joe Biden announces the release of basketball player Brittney Griner and his wife Cherelle Griner (d) in Washington, December 8, 2022 (AFP / Brendan Smialowski).

In the US, the basketball player’s wife, Cheryl Griner, said she was “overwhelmed with emotion”.

“Not a single day in the last 10 months has left Brittney Griner in our hearts and thoughts,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who indicated the basketball player will land in Texas.

Saudi Arabia also participated in the transfer process, according to a joint statement with the United Arab Emirates, noting that “the mediation was carried out by Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

Joe Biden thanked Abu Dhabi.

“The only countries participating in the negotiations are the United States and Russia,” said US administration spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.

A senior U.S. official said talks with Moscow were focused on the release of Brittney Griner, and that the U.S. had communicated this to Ukraine and other allies.

– Paul Whelan “Strongly Disappointed” –

Another American detained in Russia, ex-soldier Paul Whelan, was not included in the exchange. “Even if we fail to secure Paul’s release, we will never give up,” Joe Biden vowed.

Basketball player Brittney Griner is led into a courtroom for sentencing near Moscow on August 4, 2022. (POOL/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Basketball player Brittney Griner is led into a courtroom for sentencing near Moscow on August 4, 2022. (POOL/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

In a call with CNN from his penal colony in Russia, Paul Whelan said he was “deeply disappointed.” “I don’t understand why I’m still here.

In a statement, her family said they were “delighted” for Ms Kreiner, but “still devastated” to know Paul Whelan in a Russian prison.

Arrested in Russia in December 2018, he was sentenced to sixteen years in prison for “espionage”, which he denounced as a new fabrication.

– “Merchant of Death” –

Brittney Griner, a 32-year-old African-American athlete and two-time Olympic champion, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport with a vaporizer and liquid containing marijuana, banned in Russia.

In August, he was sentenced to nine years in prison and then, after his appeal was rejected, transferred to a penal colony in central Russia in November.

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bot in a Bangkok jail on April 9, 2008 (AFP / Saeed KHAN)

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bot in a Bangkok jail on April 9, 2008 (AFP / Saeed KHAN)

His supporters have always condemned him as a hostage to negotiate with Washington amid the conflict in Ukraine.

The name Victor Bott was mentioned in the summer. The notorious Russian arms smuggler, arrested in Thailand in 2008, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the United States.

Viktor Bode landed in Russia on Thursday, a Russian public television channel reported. “Don’t worry, everything’s fine, I love you so much,” he told his mother, Raissa Bout. A few hours later he found his relatives in Moscow.

Nicknamed the “Merchant of Death,” his extraordinary career inspired the movie “Lord of War” with Nicolas Cage.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, said in a video message to Viktor Bout that he was aware the arms dealer was under “powerful physical and moral pressure” while in prison in the US, according to Russian news reports. Company TASS.

“You have borne this with dignity,” he added, “and Moscow is truly glad that Russia’s efforts for your release have finally succeeded.”

The Americans and Russians accuse each other of detaining their respective nationals for political purposes. There have been several prisoner exchanges in the past.

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