Zissou said that it is unprofitable for the US to keep Bout because it would reduce the chances of him being exchanged for one of the Americans in Russian prisons. He called the most fair exchange of a Russian for a basketball player Greiner Buta offered “the most honest” option for his exchange” />
The most honest thing would be to exchange businessman Viktor Bout convicted in the United States for basketball player Brittney Griner, says Russian lawyer Steve Zissu.
“Her crime is less serious than [the case of Paul] Whelan, who is accused of espionage, — the lawyer explained.— But in reality, the false narrative that Bout— “merchant of death”, and only recently some American journalists began to write the truth about Victor. So it's possible that Whelan will be included [in the exchange] even though he served a very small fraction of his sentence compared to Victor.
Zissou noted that Bout is serving a sentence in an American prison longer than Griner, Whelan and Trevor Reed (convicted in Russia for violence against a police officer) were all imprisoned in Russia combined. “Victor's term will come to an end in five or six years. What's the point of keeping it any longer if [the US] runs the risk of getting nothing in return? This logic is not alien to the US government, — said the lawyer.
He added that Bout's health had deteriorated and “there's no excuse” that he is not receiving the necessary medical care. “It can be assumed that this is an attempt to put pressure on the Russian government, but I have no evidence,” — Zissa added. He promised to seek observance of the rights of the Russian and go to court if he is not provided with assistance in the near future.
Bout's wife Alla told RBC that after he contracted a bacterial infection, they contacted the prison administration and the staff of the Russian embassy in Washington, but there was no response from the American side. “The infection began to spread so much that a person is constantly tormented by pain, that is, it already looks like just torture with pain when he cannot sleep, does not find a place for himself,” — Bout's wife says. According to her, her husband has not yet been diagnosed, his condition has deteriorated greatly, a significant part of the skin is affected.
Alla But is not aware of a possible exchange. “I hope that this will happen, because there is every reason to hope for it and think that it is possible. Because we recently saw that Konstantin Yaroshenko (a Russian pilot convicted in the United States for smuggling cocaine, in the spring of 2022 he was exchanged for an American Trevor Reed. — RBC) returned home. Still, apparently, work is underway in this direction, & mdash; she noted.
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Washington began investigating Bout back in the 1990s. In 2008, he was arrested in Thailand: Bout was accused of trying to sell weapons to Colombian terrorists posed as American agents. In 2010, the Thai authorities approved the extradition of the Russian to the United States, where in 2012 Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The businessman pleaded not guilty. Washington refused Moscow several times in response to requests to deport Bout.
Zissou said in February this year that Bout could be released in six years for good behavior and after his release he should be deported to Russia.< /p>
In May, it became known about the health problems of the Russian. The embassy in Washington accused the American authorities of deliberately not helping Bout.
Brittney Greiner, whom Zissou offered to exchange for Bout,— American basketball player As part of the US team, she twice became the Olympic champion and won two world championships. Since 2015, Greiner has played for the Yekaterinburg club UMMC. In February 2022, the athlete was arrested after e-cigarette cartridges filled with hash oil were found in her bag at Sheremetyevo Airport. A criminal case was opened against her under clause «c» Part 2 Art. 229.1 of the Criminal Code (smuggling of narcotic drugs in a significant amount), she faces up to ten years in prison. Griner did not challenge the charge in court.
The US State Department said that it considers the basketball player illegally detained and the office of the US President's Special Representative for Hostage Affairs will deal with her case.
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