Who Is Victor Bout? Russia's 'Merchant of Death' Swap for Griner, Whelan

The Biden administration has proposed exchanging two Americans being detained by Russia,...

WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer known as the "Merchant of Death."

At a news conference on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the proposed deal and stated he intended to discuss it with his Russian counterpart during their first meeting since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian person that the United States is offering to free is a 55-year-old arms dealer who is presently incarcerated in an Illinois jail serving a 25-year sentence.

In 2011, Bout was found guilty of planning to assassinate American citizens and officials as well as selling the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) weapons worth millions of dollars.

The Kremlin has long advocated for Bout's release, describing his detention in the United States as "illegal" and charging that the country treated unfairly him out for political purposes.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the former military translator has become a well-known personality on a global scale, earning him the nickname "The Great Translator" for the breadth of his clients and operations. 

 He is believed to have acted as the inspiration for Nicholas Cage's portrayal of the character in the 2005 crime film "Lord of War."

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