A number of officials from Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) have stated that it was a horrible mistake for President Joe Biden to ok the swap of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, more well known as the “Merchant of Death,” for WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Originally, Griner was taken into custody this past February at an airport in Moscow in the wake of being caught with a number of marijuana-based vaping materials and slammed with a sentence of nine years in a Russian prison this past August. Bout, who is well known as the world’s most notorious arms dealer, was officially convicted of trying to sell multiple millions of dollars worth of weaponry to a prominent foreign terror group for the express purpose of killing Americans.
“If she were my relative, I would want to do the swap,” explained an official with the DOJ to The Washington Post. “But trading a notorious international arms dealer for a basketball player is madness.”
The Post stated that a number of officials from the department view the one-for-one swap as a horrible idea, given the massive difference between offenses.
Robert Zachariasiewicz, a former agent of the DEA, stated to the Post that he was against such a plan that ends up benefitting Russia quite a bit more than the U.S.
“We just showed that it is really useful to have an American in your back pocket because you never know when you need them to trade,” stated Zachariasiewicz.
Back when he was issued his conviction, Bout was labeled by then-Attorney General Eric Holder as “one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers.”
“Viktor Bout’s arms trafficking activity and support of armed conflicts have been a source of concern around the globe for decades,” stated the AG for the Obama administration, going further to add that Bout would end up paying for his “efforts to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to terrorists for use in killing Americans.”
The Biden admin was slammed with additional criticism for the Griner swap due to the outright failure to secure the release of Paul Whelan, a retired U.S. Marine that has been in a Russian prison since December of 2018 on charges of espionage that have been marked as baseless by the U.S. government.
As the brother of the imprisoned Michigan man, David Whelan stated in a release that he “can’t fathom” just how his brother would feel upon getting the news of Griner’s release.
“Despite the possibility that there might be an exchange without Paul, our family is still devastated,” stated David. “I can’t even fathom how Paul will feel when he learns. Paul has worked so hard to survive nearly 4 years of this injustice. His hopes had soared with the knowledge that the US government was taking concrete steps for once towards his release. He’d been worrying about where he’d live when he got back to the U.S.”