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    Breaking: Biden Approves a Prisoner Exchange—Griner for a Terrorist Known as the “Merchant of Death”

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    Brittney Griner of the WNBA and Paul Whelan, a former Marine, would be exchanged for a Russian criminal known as the “Merchant of Death,” according to President Joe Biden.

    Griner was detained by Russian officials in February at the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow when vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were discovered among her possessions.

    A few months later, on July 7, Griner entered a guilty plea in a Russian court for drug possession and smuggling. Such a felony carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail in Russia.

    Whelan was detained by Russia after his espionage arrest in 2018 and is currently there. Despite his repeated denials of the allegations, he was found guilty in 2020 and given a 16-year sentence.

    The Biden administration reportedly debated how to approach the matter for “months” before coming up with a plan, according to an exclusive CNN report.

    According to three unnamed sources, the Biden administration is willing to trade the two-time Olympian and Phoenix Mercury star for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

    According to reports, the Department of Justice disagrees with Biden’s decision to free Bout, but the president’s power supersedes any disagreement from the department.

    According to a statement from the DOJ at the time, Bout was found guilty in 2011 of “conspiring to kill U.S. nationals; conspiring to kill U.S. officers and employees; conspiring to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles; and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization,”

    Then-Attorney General Eric Holder stated at the time,“Today, one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers is being held accountable for his sordid past. Viktor Bout’s arms trafficking activity and support of armed conflicts have been a source of concern around the globe for decades. Today, he faces the prospect of life in prison for his efforts to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to terrorists for use in killing Americans.”

    Then-Attorney General Eric Holder stated at the time,“Today, one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers is being held accountable for his sordid past. Viktor Bout’s arms trafficking activity and support of armed conflicts have been a source of concern around the globe for decades. Today, he faces the prospect of life in prison for his efforts to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to terrorists for use in killing Americans.”

    Preet Bharara, the then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated after Bout’s conviction, “As the evidence at trial showed, Viktor Bout was ready to sell a weapons arsenal that would be the envy of some small countries. He aimed to sell those weapons to terrorists for the purpose of killing Americans. With today’s swift verdict, justice has been done and a very dangerous man will be behind bars.”

    Despite Bout’s numerous crimes, a senior administration official told CNN that the exchange was still being discussed. A “significant offer,” according to the person, was initially communicated in June.

    The person then said that it was still unclear whether the agreement would go through.

    “It takes two to tango. We start all negotiations to bring home Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained with a bad actor on the other side. We start all of these with somebody who has taken a human being American and treated them as a bargaining chip,” the official added.

    More on this story via The Western Journal:

    “So in some ways, it’s not surprising, even if it’s disheartening, when those same actors don’t necessarily respond directly to our offers, don’t engage constructively in negotiations.”

    The entire text of the DOJ’s 2011 news release regarding Bout’s conviction follows:

    International arms dealer Viktor Bout was found guilty today of conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – a designated foreign terrorist organization based in Colombia – to be used to kill Americans in Colombia, announced the Department of Justice.

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