“Russia must respond”: US makes a bid to release Greiner and Whelan

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Russia had made a “significant offer” to release US citizen Paul Whelan and US basketball player Brittney Griner. It was later discovered that this was a trade-off for businessman Viktor Bout. US President Joe Biden supported This is the exchange format.

“I plan to raise the issue of the release of American Whelan and Greiner, who should be allowed to return home, which is our top priority,” Blinken said.

He said that he plans to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the first time since the start of special operations by the Russian army in Ukraine.

He was also known to support US President Joe Biden’s plan to trade Bout with Griner and Whelan. According to CNN, Russia’s proposal was sent in June. Sources did not elaborate on the details, stating that they are awaiting a response.

David Whelan, brother of Paul Whelan saidHis family hopes Russia will approve the swap, but is yet to provide details of the proposed deal.

Kremlin’s reaction

in the Kremlin refused Comment on posts about a possible Booth replacement for Greiner and Whelan.

“No comment,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Russian President.

History of Viktor Bout

Russian businessman Bout has been in prison since March 6, 2008. A US court found him guilty of arms trafficking and ties to terrorists. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012. In the Western media, Bout is called “arms lord” and “death dealer”.

In 1991 Booth became an aviation broker. In 1992 he went to South Africa, where he organized air transport. In the mid-1990s, information began to appear in the press that Bout’s work involved the illegal arms trade in countries subject to international embargo, including Afghanistan, Angola, Togo, Rwanda, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The media also associated him with the Taliban (the movement is considered terrorist in the Russian Federation, its activities are prohibited) and Al Qaeda (in the Russian Federation the movement is considered terrorist, its activities are prohibited). It is stated that in 1995 Bout participated in the negotiations on the release of the Russian crew of the Il-76 aircraft seized in Afghanistan.

The entrepreneur was mentioned in UN Security Council (2000), Amnesty International (2005 and 2006) and US State Department reports in connection with the illegal supply of weapons and ammunition to circumvent UN sanctions. But since 2003, companies owned or controlled by Bout have provided financial support to the US military in Iraq.

In 2001 Bout was forced to leave the UAE, where he resides permanently. In 2002 Belgium accused him of smuggling diamonds and money laundering worth $300 million. In 2002, the UN placed a travel ban on Bout, and in 2005 the UN and the US froze his accounts. In 2008, Bout was detained in Bangkok. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents made dictaphone recordings at a meeting with him under the guise of Colombian rebels, putting Bout in danger. He was extradited to the United States on November 17, 2010.

On November 2, 2011, a New York jury found Booth guilty. He was found guilty of conspiracy to kill US citizens, including officials, conspiracy to sell missiles, and conspiracy to support terrorism in collaboration with the Colombian group FARC. The decision was announced on April 4, 2012. The prosecution demanded that Bout be sentenced to life imprisonment.

After the decision was made, attempts were made repeatedly to secure Bout’s release, notably through the 1983 Soviet-American Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The entrepreneur’s defense has also repeatedly tried to appeal the decision. In the absence of compelling reasons for his release, Viktor Bout should be released from prison on August 19, 2029.

Brittney Griner’s story

Greiner is, without exaggeration, a legend in women’s basketball. He has two victories for the USA team at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. She won an NBA victory in 2014 as part of the Phoenix Mercury club. Greiner has been playing for Yekaterinburg UMMC since 2015, during which time she managed to become two-time Russian champion and once a Women’s Euroleague bronze medalist.

On February 17, 2022, the athlete flew from New York to Moscow. He was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport after the reaction of a service dog, and then poppy electronic cigarettes, which are prohibited in Russia, were found in the basketball player’s belongings. The American side considers Greiner’s arrest illegal.

The Athlete is charged with committing a crime under paragraph “c” of Part 2 of Art. 229.1, Part 1 of Art. 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – smuggling and possession of drugs.

On July 5, 2022, Greiner wrote a letter to Biden asking the US authorities to release him from the Russian pre-trial detention center.

“Please do everything in your power to bring me home. Sitting alone in a Russian prison with my thoughts, without my family and friends, I fear that I may stay here forever,” quotes Politico Greiner, who received the text of the letter.

In a letter, Griner urged Biden to be released for voting for him in the 2020 US presidential election.

“I miss my family. I miss my teammates! It’s killing me that they’re in so much pain right now. I’m grateful for everything you can do to get me home as soon as possible,” he wrote.

Greiner was to be questioned on July 27. Prior to that, the court found out if he had any complaints about the conditions of detention in Russia.

“No, there are no complaints. I just wait patiently,” said the basketball player.

Later, in his interrogation in the Khimki court, he stated that he used the medical cannabis in his possession with the permission of the doctors and did not want to violate the laws of the Russian Federation.

The Paul Whelan Story

US citizen Paul Whelan worked as safety director for auto parts company BorgWarner. His responsibilities included security control in the company’s divisions. According to the investigation, Whelan, a career intelligence officer, collected classified information in Russia and tried to recruit employees of the FSB and the Ministry of Defense.
On December 28, 2018, in Moscow, Whelan was detained in a room at the Metropol Hotel, where he received a flash card with a classified list of people, among other things, members of the local special services. Some time after Whelan retrieved the flash drive, FSB officers entered his room, seized the scene and personally detained the American.

The FSB Investigative Department opened a criminal case against the American under article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Espionage”), he was threatened with up to 20 years in prison. The American side also finds Whelan’s arrest, detention and trial illegal.

According to the defendant’s twin brother, David, on the day of his arrest Paul was in Moscow at his sailor friend’s wedding. At the same time, he refused to say exactly who the hero of the event was, as he did not reveal information about his friends. According to her, the wedding took place in a stylish hotel in the center of Moscow.

After some time, an interesting detail of his biography appeared – he has passports of four countries. Except USA – Canada, Ireland and UK. In addition to this, Paul Whelan served in the US Army in Iraq from 2003 to 2008.

On June 15, the Moscow City Court sentenced Whelan to 16 years in a tight regime colony on charges of espionage.

US authorities offered Russia to trade businessman Viktor Bout for Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has already announced plans to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the swap.

Source: Gazeta


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