The US Did Not Get Fleeced in the Brittney Griner — Viktor Bout Trade
A friend celebrated US WNBA player Britney Griner’s return home from Russia this past week with a short but sweet post on Facebook. My friend was simply congratulating Griner and her family for finally being reunited after an international prisoner exchange, where Griner was traded for Viktor Bout, aka The Merchant of Death.
An American guy wrote in my friend’s comments: “We got fleeced on this trade.”
I’ve been seeing similar comments on Twitter and other social media spaces. Some of these comments are referring to Paul Whelan, the Canadian-born, multi-national ex-Marine imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on charges of espionage. The US Feds were initially negotiating a two-person prisoner-swap for Bout, in exchange for Griner and Whelan, but the Russians wanted a two-prisoner swap on their end as well: Griner and Whelan for Bout and Vadim Kasikov, a Russian spy currently serving a life sentence in Germany for murder.
In the end, the exchange negotiations only settled on Griner for Bout.
The US did not get fleeced on this deal at all.
Brittney Griner never should have been in prison to begin with, and she was facing certain death. Bout was facing release at the end of his sentence in 2029. The trade simply sped up what was going to happen anyway, which also means he wasn’t even that valuable of a prisoner to the US (because if he was, then why wasn’t he at ADX Florence, the highest security prison in the US?).
Bout — the Merchant of Death — has been held at a medium-security, mixed-gender prison in Marion, IL, where the Feds like to house domestic and foreign terrorists (yes, all in the same place, where they can talk to each other. What could go wrong?). He was scheduled for release in 2029, so this trade simply released him 6 years early, out of a 25 year sentence.
Incidentally, Bout’s incarceration at Marion has been costing the American people US$33,000 per year, for a total of US$330,000.
Griner, on the other hand, never had the second trial mandated by Russian law to ensure that confessions are not…