Brittney Griner was released from a Russian penal colony last Thursday as part of a prisoner swap. President Joe Biden approved the swapping of Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
There have been mixed opinions about whether or not the swap was a good idea. Former President Donald Trump does not approve and made his opinion clear, calling the trade “unpatriotic” and “stupid.”
Brittney was arrested in a Russian airport after officials found vape cartridges in her suitcase, which is illegal in Russia. She pled guilty to the drug charge and was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison.
The United States has been negotiating with the Russian government for her release, and they finally came to an agreement. Griner was to be traded for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer also known as the “Merchant of Death.”
Putin has been allegedly trying to get Bout back to Russia for quite some time, and some would argue that the U.S. gave up a significant bargaining chip in this arrangement. The White House announced her return and assured people that Griner was safe and in good health.
“She has been reunited with her wife, Cherelle. U.S officials who met her on the ground said she was in very good spirits, [and] appears to be in good health,” the White House’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Stamp of Disapproval
Former President Donald Trump made it clear that he does not support this prisoner swap. He posted his opinion on Truth Social, saying that he believes the swap was “stupid” and “unpatriotic.”
What kind of a deal is it to swap Brittney Griner, a basketball player who openly hates our country, for the man known as ‘The Merchant of Death.’ Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? What a ‘stupid’ and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!”
Viktor Bout is known for ignoring sanctions and supplying weapons around the world to support civil wars. An undercover U.S. agent was able to catch him conspiring to sell weapons meant to harm Americans. He was arrested on terrorist charges in 2011.
Although Trump seemed to take up the cause for Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who was arrested in Russia in 2018 on espionage charges, Whelan’s brother is skeptical. “Former President Trump appears to have mentioned my brother #PaulWhelan’s wrongful detention more in the last 24 hours than he did in the 2 years of his presidency in which Paul was held hostage by #Russia (zero). I don’t suggest he cares now any more than he did then (zero).”
Former President Trump appears to have mentioned my brother #PaulWhelan‘s wrongful detention more in the last 24 hours than he did in the 2 years of his presidency in which Paul was held hostage by #Russia (zero). I don’t suggest he cares now any more than he did then (zero) https://t.co/7lnSF0zJxL
— David Whelan (@davidpwhelan) December 9, 2022
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