National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan refused to call international arms dealer Victor Booth a terrorist on Monday despite being accused of conspiring to kill Americans.
“Does the (Biden) administration consider Victor Burr a terrorist?” Sullivan asked at a White House press briefing, referring to Booth’s release from a US prison last week in exchange for WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is being held in Russia. .
“We consider him to be a convicted felon for arms trafficking and other crimes,” Sullivan replied, noting that Booth was not listed as a terrorist by the State Department.
RUSSIAN ‘MERCHANT OF DEATH’ VICTOR BOUTH WHO WILL REPLACE BRITT FOR GRINER?
Booth was in the middle of serving a 25-year sentence in the United States when he was released in a prison swap for Griner, who was serving a 10-year sentence in Russia on marijuana charges.
Dubbed the “Merchant of Death” for supplying weapons to high-profile conflict zones around the world, including Afghanistan and Rwanda, Booth was charged in 2011 with conspiracy to kill Americans, supply anti-aircraft missiles and aid in an armed attack. terrorist organization.
The Biden administration quickly opposed the trade, which critics called one-sided in Russia’s favor, in part because it did not secure his release. Paul Whelan, a former US Marine imprisoned in Russia on charges of espionage.
On Monday, Sullivan defended the switch.
“Before we make a decision to send someone back as part of the Take America Home deal, we will determine the national security implications,” he said. “That’s the assessment we made in this case.”
“We believe we can overcome these challenges, but we will remain ever-vigilant against any future threat to Victor Bout Americans and the United States,” he added.
“Russia has no shortage of arms dealers and mercenaries who pose a threat and threat to the international order,” Sullivan said.