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Viktor Bout endured powerful pressure in US jail — ambassador

He endured all trials with dignity, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said

WASHINGTON, December 9. /TASS/. Russian citizen Viktor Bout was subjected to powerful physical and moral pressure in a US prison, but endured all trials with dignity, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said on Thursday.

"It’s hard for an ordinary person to imagine the severity of conditions, in which Russian citizens are kept in US jails," the ambassador said in a video address to Viktor Bout, published by the Russian embassy. "We are aware of the powerful physical and moral pressure that you were subjected to. And you endured it with dignity."

Antonov congratulated Bout on "returning home and reunifying with the family" after spending "the lengthy 12 years behind bars in US."

"We are genuinely delighted by the fact that Russia’s efforts for your release have eventually succeeded," the ambassador added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on December 8 that Viktor Bout was returning to Russia as a result of an agreement with the US to exchange him for American basketball player Brittney Griner.

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.

Brittney Griner, a US basketball star, was arrested in Russia in February 2022 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. The court sentenced her to nine years in a penal colony.