MOSCOW, October 6. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said he intended to visit next week Viktor Bout, a Russian national who is doing time in a US correctional facility.
"I would like to speak about it officially for the first time ever. In a week-time I plan to pay a visit to Viktor Bout," Antonov said in a televised interview with Russia’s Channel One. "I had been already granted permission for this and hope that no artificial barriers on behalf of the United States would emerge."
Earlier this year, Washington offered Moscow to swap Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who is serving a prison term in the US for arms trafficking, for basketball player Brittney Griner, sentenced to jail for drugs trafficking, and Paul Whelan, convicted in Russia of spying.
Viktor Bout was apprehended in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok in 2008 following a sting by US federal agents. He was charged with conspiracy to deliver weapons to a group regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States.
US basketball player Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia earlier in the year on charges of attempting to smuggle drugs into the country. She flew to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport from New York, where upon arrival, two cartridges with cannabis oil were found in her luggage during baggage inspection. According to an expert review, the substance was cannabis oil, which qualifies as a narcotic substance.
US national Paul Whelan is convicted in Russia for spying. On December 28, 2018, Whelan, who holds US, UK, Canadian and Irish citizenship, was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service in a room of Moscow’s Metropol Hotel while on a spy mission. The FSB opened a criminal case against him on charges of espionage under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code. The Moscow City Court found Whelan guilty of spying against Russia and sentenced him to 16 years in a high security colony.