The "Merchant of Death," Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, was exchanged for WNBA star Brittney Griner by President Joe Biden, according to department of justice (DOJ) officials.
According to The Daily Wire's report, Griner was detained in February at a Moscow airport after being found in possession of marijuana vaping supplies; in August, he was given a nine-year prison term.
One of the most prominent arms dealers in the world, Bout, was found guilty in 2011 of plotting to supply a foreign terrorist organization with weapons valued at millions of dollars that would be used to kill Americans.
"If she were my relative, I would want to do the swap," one DOJ official told The Washington Post. "But trading a notorious international arms dealer for a basketball player is madness."
The Department of Justice (DOJ) officials believe it was a mistake for President Joe Biden to substitute Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death," with WNBA star Brittney Griner.
After being discovered in possession of marijuana vaping supplies, Griner was detained in February at a Moscow airport. In August, he was given a nine-year prison term.
In 2011, Bout, one of the most renowned arms dealers in the world, was found guilty of planning to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to a designated foreign terrorist organization so they could use them to kill Americans.
"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," Zachariasiewicz said.
When he was convicted, then-Attorney General Eric Holder called Bout "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," the Obama administration AG said, adding that Bout would pay for his "efforts to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to terrorists for use in killing Americans."
Since they were unable to obtain the release of Paul Whelan, a retired U.S. Marine detained in Russia since December 2018 on espionage accusations that the U.S. government stated are unfounded, the Biden administration came under extra fire for the Griner deal.
The Michigan man's brother, David Whelan, said in a statement that he "can't fathom" how my brother would feel if he learned that Griner had been released.
"Despite the possibility that there might be an exchange without Paul, our family is still devastated," David said, The Daily Wire reported.
"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."