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US President approves plan to exchange Viktor Bout for Greiner and Whelan

Biden personally endorsed the administration's plan

Biden personally endorsed the administration’s plan

A photo: REUTERS

Head of the White House Joe Biden personally approved administration planconcerning the exchange of a Russian Viktor Bout, abducted by the Americans, convicted and serving a sentence in an American prison, for two US citizens – a basketball player Brittney Griner and police Paul Whelanlocated in Russian penitentiary institutions.

“Biden’s support for the swap overrides objections from the Justice Department, which generally opposes prisoner swaps,” CNN said in a statement.

According to the publication, the American side has already sent a corresponding proposal to the Kremlin and hopes for the success of the enterprise.

Former US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced his intention to negotiate an exchange with the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov.

Russian businessman Viktor Bout was detained in Thailand in 2008 on charges of illegally selling weapons and supporting terrorism. He was convicted by a jury in 2011, and a federal court in New York sentenced him to 25 years in prison. Bout himself did not admit guilt, and called the criminal case against himself fabricated and politically oriented.

Paul Whelan, a Canadian, US, British and Irish citizen, former US Marine and police officer was detained in Russia in 2018 and received 16 years in prison on charges of espionage.

Brittney Greiner, a professional American basketball player, was detained in February this year at Sheremetyevo Airport. In her belongings, electronic cigarettes with a narcotic liquid (a derivative of cannabis) were found. Charged with possession and smuggling of prohibited substances. She fully admitted her guilt, according to Russian laws, she can receive up to 10 years in prison.

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