The exchange has occurred in the United Arab Emirates, previous respective pardons
MADRID, 8 (.)
The United States and Russia have confirmed on Thursday the exchange of prisoners for which the American professional basketball player Brittney Griner, imprisoned in Russia on drug trafficking charges, and Viktor Bout, so far in a United States prison for arms trafficking They have returned to their respective countries.
The player was sentenced to nine years in jail after Russian authorities found cannabis oil during a February search at Moscow airport.
Bout, known as the “merchant of war” for his responsibility in arms trafficking, was arrested in Thailand in 2008 by order of the United States and was serving a 25-year prison sentence to date.
Bout’s release has been confirmed by the Russian Foreign Ministry to the TASS agency. The exchange, adds the Ministry, took place at the Abu Dhabi airport, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
“As a result of the efforts made, it was possible to agree with the American side on the organization of the exchange of Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner. The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland,” according to the diplomatic department.
Shortly after, the vice president of the Russian branch of the International Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, Ivan Melnikov, reported that Bout and Griner had been pardoned before the exchange so “it is not necessary for them to serve their sentences on their own.” countries”.
Later, the Foreign Ministries of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia confirmed in a joint statement “the success of the joint Emirati-Saudi mediation, led by the President of the Emirates, Mohamed bin Zayed, and the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman, ” to release and exchange two prisoners between the United States and Russia”, according to the note collected by the official Emirati news agency WAM.
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has confirmed that Griner is “safe” and back in his country after spending “intolerable circumstances” in the Russian prison.
“It is a day that we have been waiting for a long time, after arduous negotiations and I want to thank the Administration for its tireless work,” he assured at a press conference.
The player “is in good health, but has lost months of life in unnecessary trauma,” according to the president, who has praised the “dignity” displayed by the athlete during the trial.
“She never asked me for special treatment, just not to be forgotten about her,” said Biden, who also addressed a few words to the family of former US Marine Paul Whelan, also imprisoned in Russia for espionage.
“We have not forgotten Paul Whelan, unjustly detained in Russia for years. We are not going to give up, we never will, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith,” said the president, who has asked the Russian authorities to ” guarantee their health” during their stay in prison.