Viktor Bout, center, is led by armed Thai police commandoes as he arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. The Russian arms dealer who once inspired a Hollywood movie is back in the headlines with speculation around a return to Moscow in a prisoner exchange for U.S. WBNA star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
Apichart Weerawong, Associated Press
The United States offered to trade a convicted arms dealer in order to free WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17, after being accused of carrying vape cartridges with traces of cannabis oil into the country.
So who is Viktor Bout, and why does Russia want him back?
‘Merchant of Death’: After months of public pressure and behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Biden administration offered to exchange convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, whom the U.S. considers wrongfully detained by Russia.
Bout is one of the most prominent arms dealers of the last 30 years, whose notoriety earned him the nickname, the “Merchant of Death.” Nicolas Cage starred in the 2005 film “Lord of War,” which is loosely based on Bout’s life.
Bout was trained by the Soviet military, and took advantage of the fractured former Soviet states in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, flying transport planes loaded with weapons all over the world. He has been linked to wars in Afghanistan, Angola, Congo, Lebanon, Somalia and Yemen, and has been rumored to sell arms to both sides in the same …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News