MADRID, Dec. 12 (.) –
The former president of the United States Donald Trump has affirmed this Sunday that during his stay in the White House he rejected an agreement to release ex-marine Paul Whelan, detained in Moscow since 2018, in exchange for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“I rejected a deal with Russia on a one-for-one exchange of the so-called ‘Merchant of Death’ for Paul Whelan. I would not have made the deal for a hundred people in exchange for someone who has killed untold numbers of people with his arms deals. “, the ex-president has pointed out through a message on his social network, Truth Social.
Trump made these statements after Bout was released last Thursday in an exchange for professional basketball player Brittney Griner, jailed for ten months on drug trafficking charges for finding cannabis oil during a search at the 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 until this week.
The White House offered to exchange the player and the ex-marine — accused of espionage — for Bout. However, Whelan did not enter the negotiations, as Moscow considers him to have a different status because of the allegations against him.
“Russia gave us no other option, as we were told,” the head of strategic communication for the National Security Agency, John Kirby, said on Sunday. “The only way to release Griner was by Bout,” he explained in an interview with Fox News.