Posted by Matthew Husti.
On February 17th of 2022 WNBA player Brittney Griner was detained in Russia for possession of hashish oil in her luggage. She was traveling for her off season basketball team and was sentenced for 9 years for possession of the hashish oil.
On December 8th, Brittney Griner was brought home to her home in Texas to be reunited with her family. The reason that this ended up happening was because of a trade prisoner swap between Brittney Griner and Victor Bout. Victor Bout is a dangerous man who is a Russian arms dealer and was nicknamed “The Merchant of Death”. This trade has come with a lot of backlash as Brittney Griner is not as much of a prisoner compared to Victor Bout. He has caused so many issues that a lot of people are very surprised that the United States was willing to give him up.
Russia was very excited for this prisoner exchange and Vladimir Putin has said that he is ready for more swaps. This can cause many legal issues because it seems like these prisoners will be able to get out for a trade just because they are on foreign ground. Another reason is the current state of Russia with their Ukraine situation and how they now added a arms dealer who is guaranteed to have his contacts still in Russia. A lot of people have gotten very upset because the only reason she is getting traded for is because she is a celebrity. If it were the average United States citizen, they would still be there for the entire sentence, but because she is more popular, she gets valued as much as a Russian arms dealer. Another topic that people have been getting into is Paul Whelan, who is also being held in Russia. He is a United States marine who is being detained for espionage, which is partaking in being a spy. A more realistic trade offer would have been the United States spy for Victor Bout.
People are happy that Brittney Griner is home were she should be, but many believe Paul Whelan needs to be brought home as well. This settlement was very important for relationships between the United States and Russia. I do believe that countries should entertain the ideas of swapping prisoners, however, this trade was much different do to the severity of how dangerous Victor Bout is.
Matthew is a student at Seton Hall University.