CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez said that senior US law enforcement officials were involved in the trafficking of US citizen Brittney Griner and Russian arms dealer Victor Booth, given how dangerous Booth was and how long it took for the Americans to capture him, “ basically a bad deal.” him.
Peres also argued that the deal was less of a means for the US to bring home US Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018.
On Thursday, Britney Griner was released from a US prison by Russian authorities in exchange for the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed “Death Merchant”. The Biden administration initially sought to release Whelan as well, but that part of the deal fell through.
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Biden’s critics in the media were quick to call the deal a bad one, but CNN’s Perez did, noting that some US law enforcement agencies saw it that way too.
Speaking to a CNN panel, Perez spoke of the “concerns” members of the DOJ, FBI and DEA had about how difficult it was to catch Booth when he was caught in a 2008 drug sting in Thailand.
Perez said, “The concern at the Department of Justice is, of course, the FBI, the DEA, these are law enforcement agencies that have been working for years to capture Victor Booth. They finally did it — they captured him and took him back to Thailand. 2008 Many people have shed blood, sweat and tears.
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He also mentioned that law enforcement officials are concerned about the safety of Americans following such an exchange. The reporter noted, “The concern I’ve heard since we reported these conversations over the summer is whether this will set a precedent for other Americans and put more Americans at risk.”
Perez said there was “probably a little bit more acceptance” when the deal was being negotiated and Whelan was included in the trade. Although he insists that is not the case now.
He said, “But now it’s a one-on-one deal, which is very bad, certainly very bad among law enforcement officers, because, as you point out, there’s no bargaining. To bring Paul Whelan home.”
“The Department of Justice never likes these deals,” Perez said, but added that they were particularly displeased. He said: “But it seemed epically more problematic for people.”