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“Merchant of Death” Prisoner Swap: Infographics


The prisoner swap between Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout and U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner failed to include former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, arrested in Moscow in 2018.

Whelan, 52, is a corporate security executive convicted of espionage and serving a 16-year sentence in Russia. U.S. officials say they are still working to secure the release of the former Marine.

Griner was arrested on February 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

Russia sentenced the 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury player -- and two-time Olympic gold medallist -- on August 4 to nine years in prison, and Washington protested her sentence as disproportionate.

A day after Griner’s sentence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Washington.

Some observers suggested that trading an arms merchant for someone jailed for drugs would be a poor deal.

A U.S. court convicted Bout in 2011 on terrorism charges. Prosecutors said he was ready to sell up to $20 million in weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, to shoot down U.S. helicopters.