Footage Shows Brittney Griner Walk Past 'Merchant of Death' Before Later Setting Foot on American Soil


WNBA star Brittney Griner crossed paths with convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” during their prisoner swap at an airport in the United Arab Emirates Thursday.

In February, Griner was detained at a Moscow airport after Russian customs officials said they found cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage, NPR reported. She pleaded guilty in July and received a nine-year prison sentence the following month.

Bout was convicted in 2011 on charges of conspiring to kill Americans and was serving a 25-year sentence, according to The New York Times.

He has been accused of supplying arms to Al Qaeda, the Taliban and rebels in Rwanda.

Bout, 55, was probably the highest profile Russian who was being held in the U.S., according to The Times.

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The Wall Street Journal reported that UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman helped broker the deal to secure the swap of Griner for Bout, the two said in a joint statement issued Thursday.

“The successful mediation efforts reflect the strong ties of friendship that the two countries share with the United States and Russia, and the important role played by the leadership of the two brotherly nations in strengthening dialogue between the parties,” the statement said.

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The Guardian reported in August the U.S. offered to trade Bout for Griner and American Paul Whelan, a Marine Corps veteran who has been held in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges, but Russia did not accept the deal.

On Friday, Fox News host Dana Perino questioned White House national security spokesman John Kirby about earlier reporting that Russia had offered the U.S. Whelan or Griner in exchange for Bout, but not both.

“What was the actual deal on the table?” Perino asked.

Kirby responded, “The only deal the Russians were willing to put forward was Brittney Griner for Viktor Bout, and believe me we would have liked to have both of them home today.”

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Kirby added that President Joe Biden had the opportunity to “at least get one, so he made that tough decision.”

Griner landed in Texas on Friday morning at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The Times reported she will first go to Brooke Army Medical Center on the base where she will be medically evaluated before traveling home to Phoenix, Arizona.

“The hospital treats both civilians and military personnel who have survived torture or other trauma,” the news outlet said.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith