Griner case: Moscow confirms detainee exchange negotiations – Ultima Ora

(ANSA) – MOSCOW, AUG 13 – Moscow and Washington are discussing a possible exchange of prisoners between a Russian arms dealer detained in the United States and the American basketball player Brittney Griner detained in Russia: Alexander Dartchiev, director of the North American department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The United States has repeatedly claimed that it made “a substantial offer” to secure the release of two Americans detained in Russia, namely Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan sentenced by Moscow to 16 years for espionage.

According to US media, the deal involves swapping with a well-known Russian arms dealer detained in the US, Viktor Bout, nicknamed the ‘death merchant’. Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States.

“Discussions on the very sensitive issue of prisoner exchange take place through the channels chosen by our presidents,” said Dartchiev. The names quoted in the US press “are actually taken into consideration”, he added, underlining that “Russia has been trying to get Viktor Bout released for a long time”. And then: “The ‘silent diplomacy’ continues and should bear fruit if, of course, Washington … refrains from falling into propaganda.”

It is the first time that Moscow has confirmed that discussions are underway on a possible exchange with Bout. In the past, the Kremlin has repeatedly criticized Washington for public statements on ongoing negotiations. (HANDLE).