A two-time Olympic gold medalist, NBA women’s star, considered the greatest basketball player of all time, in exchange for a well-known arms dealer who has been active on the international scene for decades. The prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia involved Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout and excluded former Marine Paul Whelan.
Bout is very well known, even under the nickname “arms dealer”. Born in Soviet Tajikistan, his career began as an officer in the Soviet Air Force. Following the collapse of the USSR, he will use his flying skills, and the Soviet planes and helicopters abandoned on the runways of the empire’s bases, to organize a fleet that traffics weapons, but also drugs, all over the world, but above all in Africa – for the UN he collaborated with the regime of Paul Taylor, convicted of war crimes in 2012, in Sierra Leone for transporting minerals and diamonds – and in South America, perhaps also for the Taliban and al Qaeda.
In 2010, the United States captured him in an undercover operation by the DEA, with agents posing as buyers of the Colombian FARC, in Thailand who later extradited him to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of conspiring to kill American citizens and officers, sell air defense systems, and aid terrorist organizations. In 2003 he returned to Russia. The Russian authorities have always supported him during his trial. Bout is 55 years old and books and films have been written about him.