Check out the moment Britney Griner was replaced by Victor Bout in The Merchant of Death

A video released by Russian state media shows WNBA star Brittney Griner being swapped for notorious arms dealer Victor Booth on the tarmac of a United Arab Emirates airport.

The “Merchant of Death” can be seen hugging his Russian compatriots after being released from federal prison hours earlier.

Footage, apparently taken from a waiting Russian plane, shows Bout and another man walking away from the unidentified passenger plane toward a group of people that included Griner and three men in suits.

With Griner, one of the men reaches out to hug Guth, while the other shakes his hand. The Russian video blurs the faces of the two men, who are said to be agents of the Russian state.

The man originally with Bout joins Griner, and a fourth man – supposedly American – goes with Griner to speak with a man wearing a white kandura, a traditional robe worn by Emirati men.

A handover ceremony was held in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

The camera follows Bout, who appears to be having a live chat with the hazy men, and the video then depicts Bout boarding another private jet, where a man in a lab coat checks his blood pressure.

Later in the video, he can be seen talking to his mother on a cell phone.

“They took me out of the cell with everything,” Bout said, according to Russia’s RIA. “Then seven hours to Manchester and seven hours from Manchester.”

Bout, an illegal Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” has been in U.S. custody since the Drug Enforcement Administration captured him in Thailand in 2008.

Victor Booth on the plane
Known as the “Merchant of Death,” Booth supplied weapons to conflicts around the world.

Booth was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to kill Americans by supplying weapons to the FARC rebel group in Colombia. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Since July, the Biden administration has been rumored to be negotiating with the Kremlin to release Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, in exchange for Bout’s release.

Brittney Griner is on a plane
Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession in Russia, which the White House accused of being politically motivated.

Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, is serving a 16-year prison sentence after being convicted by Moscow in 2018 of espionage. The White House maintains that both Whelan and Griner were wrongfully detained by Russia.

Griner was arrested by Russian authorities in February after marijuana was found in his luggage as he entered the country — an incident the White House said was politically motivated before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A screenshot of Griner's release from prison
Britney Griner left the No. 2 women’s colony in Russia.

Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession charges in July. He was sentenced to nine years in a forced labor camp in Mordovia.

Whelan was not included in the deal between the White House and the Kremlin.

Biden said Thursday that the exchange “isn’t about choosing which American to bring home.”

“We have not forgotten Paul Whelan. “We will continue negotiations in good faith for the release of Paul,” he added.


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