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Biden pardons Bout by reducing his time in custody — attorney

The swap took place in Abu Dhabi

MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. US President Joe Biden has pardoned the Russian businessman Viktor Bout in order to exchange him for US basketball player Brittney Griner, reducing his sentence in the US Penitentiary Marion (USP Marion) in Illinois, Bout's US attorney Alexey Tarasov told TASS on Thursday.

"That's the essence of the pardon - the way he was exchanged and the way he was pardoned, because Biden reduced Viktor Bout's time in custody. The [US] president has the prerogative to pardon and reduce the term of detention," the attorney said.

At the same time, Tarasov stressed that it took political will to implement the swap of Bout. "We conducted a legal investigation into the case of Viktor Bout, proved that there was no corpus delicti, appealed, filed petitions for new evidence, submitted to the US Supreme Court, Russia filed its arguments there as well. Thus, we have laid the foundation for the assertion that our client is not guilty, but in fact it took political will for this implementation," the attorney said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that Russian citizen Viktor Bout, who was serving out a prison sentence in the United States on arms trafficking charges, was returning to Russia as a result of an agreement with the US to exchange him for American basketball player Brittney Griner, who was convicted in Russia of drug smuggling. The swap took place in Abu Dhabi, and now Bout is on board a special flight on its way from Makhachkala, where it was refueled, to Moscow.