Biden swaps U.S. basketball star for Russian ‘Merchant of Death’ arms dealer who sold missiles to Hezbollah

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WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from Russian a penal colony and is on her way back to the United States, the Biden administration announced Thursday.

The release also included the freeing of Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer nicknamed the “Merchant of Death,” who was released by the Biden Administration from a federal prison in Illinoise in a one-for-one prisoner swap. The swap excluded retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, languishing in a Russian prison since 2018 on charges of spying.

Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Bout was a Soviet military translator before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He used his connections and multiple companies to smuggle weapons from Eastern Europe to Africa and the Middle East. He was arrested in a sting operation in 2008 and extradited to the United States, where he was convicted of trying to kill U.S. citizens and officials, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, and giving aid to a terrorist organization. He was serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Bout allegedly delivered surface-to-air missiles to Kenya for an attack on an Israeli airliner in 2002, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “And four years later, Bout reportedly met with Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah prior to the Lebanon war. The ‘Merchant of Death'”‘ also had a ‘considerable commercial presence in Libya’ during former leader Muammar Qaddafi’s reign, according to intelligence records found in the country in 2011.”

“Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner,” President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter. “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home.”

Griner was in Russia playing offseason basketball when she was detained by Russian law enforcement after cannabis oil was found in her possession.

“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along,” Biden said during remarks from the White House on Thursday. “This was a day we worked toward for a long time.”

He asked the media to give Griner time and space to heal. “Brittney is an incomparable athlete, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for team U.S.A.,” Biden said. “She endured mistreatment and a show trial in Russia with characteristic grit and incredible dignity.

“We have not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for years,” Biden said. “This was not a choice of which American to bring home. We brought home Trevor Reed when we had a chance earlier this year. Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s, and while we have not yet succeeded in securing in Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up. We remain in close touch with Paul’s family, and my thoughts and prayers are with them today.”

Photo credit: Lorie Shaull

52 COMMENTS

  1. And left US servicemen behind.

    This is what you voted for, America. Say what you will about Trump but he never swapped a basketball player for an arms dealer.

    • Masked;We are lucky we got her back.
      Why is it that many of my fellow republicans seem to have an anti God-religious hate mongering attitude these days, aren’t we all Gods people?

      • Joe I want to trade with you. I will take the marine and you can have the kneeling anti American sport figure.

      • Griner illegally took a controlled substance into Russia which they have laws against. Ms. Griner found out real quick she wasn’t in the US anymore. I thought she would stay there, the US being so racist and all and she hates the national anthem. Perhaps the grass wasn’t greener on the other side?

        • Consider the optics.

          The Russky prisoner has been imprisoned for at least half of his time to serve. I don’t know. A decade? At least half of his sentence. Is he the only Russian national in an American prison? He’s not going to have the contacts to be as valuable to the Russian war machine that Russkies want Americans to believe. An American prison isn’t going to ‘reform’ him, just take him out commission for a while. He’s been out of Russian circulation to make arms deals while he’s been in an American prison.

          On the other hand, our Women’s Professional Basketball teams are valuable to the USA. Most folks in the USA don’t follow Women’s Basketball, however according to Wikipedia (quick reference) she has impressive stats. She is one of the best women players in the world. She has played professionally for quite some time. She was an Olympian. She is black.

          Consider also, far-righters and Russians are prejudiced against Black people, never mind a 6’7″ Black woman. She has been playing internationally for at least a decade in the off-season; in Russia since 2013.

          Consider the optics, which is pretty much the base of the Russian disinformation campaign waged along legitimate American information. Putinsky and trumpf say they’re not racist. Well, trumpf does but a person can pretty well tell that anything he says is opposite of what is real, but Putinsky is a RUSSIAN. He’s tricky and he has considered the optics to further divide Americans, the basis of which trumpf used to run for President of the USA.

          Ms Griner is an American citizen. The US Government works seriously to bring all its citizens home. She is not a criminal. She had personal items in her luggage (enough to start a business? hardly) which she’s probably had on more than one occasion before. She is principled. She is not a coward. She is a team player. She is an American Olympian.

          If folks are so concerned about the optics of ‘taking a knee’ then, why cannot they see that Putinsky the sadist is playing the American political optics game … because many Americans predictably will get their panties in a wad over the fact that Ms Griner is Black. That she’s a woman. That she is a lesbian. (Recall that Putinsky has just rolled out another new law that criminalizes sexual orientation.) For women basketball players, compared to the mens’ basketball teams they are paid 10% salaries with similar career longevity. Don’t forget that American sports players have been involved in international team membership for years, as well as the players on American sports teams. Putinsky’s propaganda machine banked on the fact that she uses cannabis for ‘medicinal purposes’. Marinol(R) is probably not widely available in Russia, if at all.

          The tactic is called ‘distraction’ + ‘tempest in a teapot’ = chaos. Pickpockets often use the ruse successfully. If you’ve ever studied pulling the rabbit out of the hat, there are similarities, but in this case, Putinsky is using his evil henchman as the little white bunny with pink twitching nose as a foil for the American far right dramatists in the Ukrainian war. Really, the MAGA adherents would have Americans believe that they are a majority in the USA. They are not. Americans tend to be fair-minded. Trumpf is no underdog. He never was.

      • Why didn’t the ex-Marine businessman, held on phony .spy’ charges come home 1st Joe?
        He has been there 4 yrs, Ms. Griner 9 months.

        Is it because the businessman is not gay? Not a POC?
        Doesn’t have a husband available for a WH photo op?

        Ms. Griner did break their drug laws.
        The same drug laws we have in many US States.

        I’m glad she’s home – 9 months is plenty for her crime.
        But this smells of “Progressive politics” …. doesn’t it?
        More Dem pandering for votes.

      • We should all be appalled that Biden swapped a basketball player for an arms dealer who is responsible for deaths on a huge scale – not to mention targeting US citizens for murder. Worse: a Marine veteran remains rotting in a Russian prison. Maybe he’ll swap some more mass muderers for Paul Whelan. This administration is either stupid or incompetent. Hey, but at least there are no more mean tweets. Yet.

      • She may have ben born in America, but she isn’t an American… Flag hating liberal is all she is, is that worth giving up one of the most dangerous and deadly ppl on the planet for??? Nope!!! Honestly, I wouldn’t give him up for the Marine either, sorry not sorry. How many more lives did demented Joe just cost the world for one American hating liberal??? Your life, my life, not worth the price innocent ppl will pay… America is a clown show that will collapse in the next 2 years, thanks to the left and weak minded cry baby’s on the right. Politics are nothing but a scam to get the populace to hate each other instead of hating the policy makers.

  2. Give Biden this. He’s very open about his priorities.

    Make Russia happy? Yup.
    Free US servicemen and national security? Hell no.

    Got to ask: did the men left behind refuse Covid shots, vote Trump, or misgender someone?

  3. For the Biden gang, virtue signaling is top priority. The bunch that runs the White House never committed to not leaving a man behind. And don’t tell us how Obama-Biden brought Bergdahl home from the Taliban. He was going AWOL or deserting. Good men died trying to find and rescue him. Biden negotiated from a position of weakness, Putin got what he wanted and more people will die as a result of this swap. Hey, but at least we have a basketball player home for a joyful reunion at Christmastime while a Marine veteran rots in a Russia jail…

  4. Griner is LGBTQ, Black, 6’9″, and married to another Black woman. A very important person in today’s United States of America. Come’on, man.

    • Not to mention won’t show up on the court during the National Anthem and convicted of domestic violence. But hey, so important.

      • joe….. Very weird comment.
        Write a book? She’s barely literate. Maybe you can show her spell check. Roundball dribblers may be millionaires, but I like my life just fine. I’m not some freak LBGTQ with a same sex partner who want lots of attention with the marriage. Have another beer, joe. Enjoy your pot.

    • Ted, you forgot to mention that Griner HATES her racist home country. She has made that very apparent. Let’s go, Brandon.

  5. Overheard in the White House:
    “Dammit! That Musk idiot is going to release information that proves Biden is corrupt. What can we do?”
    “Give Russia an arms dealer in exchange for a pot smoking, America hating, lesbian who plays a sport no one cares about. It will fill the front pages, and distract the average voter.”
    “Hmmm… that could work…”

  6. Biden Pushes Gun Control, Releases Convicted Arms Dealer in Prisoner Swap, All in Same Day

    ‘https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2022/12/08/biden-pushes-gun-control-releases-convicted-arms-dealer-prisoner-swap-all-same-day/

  7. How in hell can he say with a straight face that she was unjustly detained? She was convicted of bringing dope into Russia. That’s the law. She did the crime. She was doing the time. Biden needs a brain transplant.

    • Putin, the man, the myth and the Legend! Dividing America! Golly Frank, Biden is doing that quite nicely all on his own.
      Even if Putin didn’t exist you leftist would by needs have to create such a creature in order to have your scape goat for every one of your horrid policies.
      All this swap proves is what we have always known, Biden is a Moron.

  8. Biden’s action makes people feel good, and that is sole measure of moral action in our nation today.

    If it makes you feel good, even for one fleeting instant, it must therefore be good, and no one is allowed to stand in your way of achieving what makes you feel good, or even raise his voice to ask you to consider whether or not it truly is good, or whether your feelings should be the measure of right action.

    Teach your children how to think critically so they will not fall prey to the temptations to live by lies.

    • It doesn’t make me feel good at all that a lawbreaker smuggling hash oil illegally into a country, a person supposedly looked up to by many, was let go in exchange for a deadly and dangerous person that cost lives. Russia made a good trade here. I don’t know if the 9 years she was sentenced to was too much or not, that’s not for me to decide. But when you break the law, being an adult and accept the responsibilities for that. Don’t have an excuse by saying I forgot it was in my luggage. All she did in the end was cost lives and that is on her and biden’s conscience. They better hope God wasn’t paying attention.

  9. Biden’s negotiating skills are right up there with Obama’s. Now he’ll pat himself on the back and take a victory lap for his great rescue. What a schmuck.

  10. Pot smoking, wife beating, America hating, basketball player.
    In exchange for an evil, arms dealing, Russian pr*ck, so violent Hollywood made a movie about him.

    Top priority for the amoral Dems, naturally.
    What a cool WH photo op ….right?

  11. She will bash Russia, Russia, Russia and how she was mistreated to stoke the fires of war where Whelan,the marine, probably wouldn’t say too much

    • Yes that might happen but they’re only words. Words never heard anyone right? What else happened was the part that you don’t know about. We were just about to send in cluster bombs. If you watched the last James Bond movie, they’re pretty badass and that’s what took him out. Look for them to not be deployed now against Russia. All this will do is lengthen the war. Make gas prices container to be higher and make inflation drag on. All for a lesbian doper that happens to play basketball.

  12. I’m glad Griner was released. I would feel the same about any person, from any country, that had been abducted for political purposes by a corrupt regime.

  13. This certainly makes it easy for Russia. Find a visiting LBGT type and threaten to throw them in prison. Biden will knuckle under and sell out his countrymen in a heartbeat to appease these types.

  14. We have a Marine we could have had instead there.
    A true Patriot.
    Instead, we take a drug addled, America Hating …
    And, our ” President ” Threw hundreds of HERO’s, REAL ones, to lose their heads in Afghanistan, while importing Terrorist poison to our shores.

    • A true Patriot with a less than honorable discharge from Marines. Next you’ll be calling Trump a true Patriot for his bone spur exit from the draft. Keep em coming as we are running out of true Patriots with all of those Jan 6 insurrectionists being imprisoned lately. Heheh!

  15. Taking a page from the Taliban’s playbook, Putin pulled a fast one on Brandon. First they promised to swap both prisoners, then at the last minute they pulled back Whelan. I can almost hear the laughter echoing throughout the Kremlin.

  16. I wonder if a reporter will ask this woman how it feeds to have this Russian gangster/murderer let loose on the world because of her & her weed habit?

  17. Love the comments here—it’s like y’all are competing to kiss Putin’s ring. It’s no surprise that no matter what the administration is doing, it’s the wrong choice. Bout went home after fifteen years in a US prison where he gave up nothing. Now that Griner is released, y’all do nothing but defame her—all the more appalling folks here talk about her hating America and not being worth it. True patriots you are. Griner coming isn’t the end of it—much like the Trump administration, the Biden administration will continue to negotiate for his release. But it’s cool, Griner is black and gay so she isn’t a real Christian American like y’all are so she should rot in a gulag. So…patriotic and Christian, leave no man behind, but the black lesbian isn’t worth it. Pat yourselves on the back for at least being honest about who you are.

    • Agree with you MRAK fan. Posters here would kill their parents if they said a nice word about Biden. Speaking of posters …. here comes flame thrower Jefferson … astride his quivering keyboard to skewer the leftist liberal leftists. Oh the humanity! Oh the sharp edge of bile. Such pain stabbed into reason.

  18. this was like trading a signed rookie mickey mantle card for a tore up 1998 edger martenez card and the corporate media is unironically a diplomatic win lulz you can’t make this stuff up the USA looks weak and is the laughing stock of the world for this move

  19. Idk what everyone is getting excited about. I mean Lord of War is free now. In today’s times that’s good. I bet his ‘former associates’ are going to pull a fast one on Putin. Arms shipment to Ukraine from Africa. Oops. Wrong address.

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