“I Was a Little Shocked Seeing Her…”: Brittney Griner’s Appearance Left “Merchant of Death” in Loss of Words During Infamous Prison Exchange

Published 09/10/2023, 3:24 PM EDT

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Controversial WNBA star Brittney Griner dominated most of the headlines in 2022. She was arrested on drug charges in February 2022 in a Moscow airport and she spent 10 months in a Russian prison. Owing to the sensitivity of the case, negotiations were very slow. However, the pressure kept on building on the Joe Biden administration from family and well-wishers. Finally, the two governments agreed on a prisoner swap. This swap came with its fair share of controversies. 9 months after this infamous deal, the prisoner on the other end revealed his side of the story.

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Notorious Russian prisoner recounts meeting Brittney Griner

December 8th, 2022, was a turning point for Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner. She came back home to her wife and family after a tough 10 months in Russia.

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Viktor Bout, a prisoner serving 25 years in a federal prison, was given back to Russia in exchange for Griner. He is nicknamed ‘The Merchant of Death’ for his involvement in terrorist activities. Nine months after swapping places with Griner, Bout opened up on his short interaction with the basketball star. Interestingly, he recounted how she was considerably taller than Bout. Griner is 6-foot-9 inches tall. “Admittedly, I was a little shocked seeing her without her signature braids. She was way taller than me. I just shake the hand, I said to her, ‘I wish you good luck.’ And we both went to our planes,” said Bout according to Fox News.

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Additionally, Viktor Bout also asserted that he wishes for a normal relationship between the 2 countries having spent a long time in the United States of America.

Why did people criticize the prisoner swap?

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The negotiations for a prisoner swap went on for months. During this time, multiple sources from across the world revealed that the US Government might also bring back Paul Whelan. Whelan is an ex-Marine who is serving time in Russia. 

When the day of the prisoner swap came, it was confirmed that Paul Whelan would not be included in the deal. This naturally left people heartbroken. Former POTUS Donald Trump and many others had bashed Joe Biden for this deal. Trump was quite vocal and he had also questioned the need to give up such a notorious prisoner for the WNBA star.

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WATCH THIS STORY: 22YO Timberwolves Forward Gets Slapped With a $50,000 Fine Following a Chair-Swinging Incident Against Nikola Jokic’s Nuggets

What were your thoughts on the Brittney Griner issue? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:

Abhinava Ghosh

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Abhinava Ghosh is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports with a wealth of experience covering the league. He has written over 1400 articles for EssentiallySports, showcasing his expertise in analyzing and reporting on NBA trade rumors, injury updates, and the ever-changing dynamics of the league. He had successfully covered the entire Kevin Durant trade saga at Brooklyn, which led to the basketball legend’s move to the Desert.
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Edited by:

Saumya Khanduja

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