MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. Russian national Viktor Bout, who was serving a prison term in the US on arms trafficking charges, has returned to Russia as a result of an agreement with the US to exchange him for American basketball player Brittney Griner, found guilty in Russia of drug smuggling, the Russian Foreign Ministry told TASS on Thursday.
"As a result of the efforts made, we managed to agree with the American side to arrange an exchange of Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner. The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland," the Foreign Ministry said.
The exchange "was successfully completed at the airport of Abu Dhabi on Thursday," the ministry specified. According to it, "Washington was categorically refusing to engage in dialogue on putting the Russian national on the exchange scheme". "Nevertheless, the Russian Federation continued to actively work towards the release of our fellow countryman," it said, adding that Moscow had been negotiating Bout’s release "for a long time".
Viktor Bout was detained in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok in 2008 under a warrant issued by a local court at the behest of the US. He was charged with illegally supplying weapons to a rebel group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US. Bout was extradited to the United States two years later. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in jail and slapped with a $15-million fine.