MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. Russian businessman Viktor Bout said upon his return to Moscow that he was not informed about his upcoming release from a US jail and subsequent transfer to Russia.
"They simply woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to pack my things. There was no clear information beforehand," Bout said during his arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo-2 airport, broadcast live by the Rossiya-24 televisioin.
Bout was greeted by his wife Alla and mother Raisa, who hugged the man as he came off the plane with a bunch of white flowers in his hands.
When asked by a reporter how the flight was, Bout replied: "I’m here, and it is the only thing that matters."
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.