When Brittney Griner was exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in a prisoner swap on Thursday, the so-called “Merchant of Death” appeared to say something to the WNBA star.
Now in an interview with Russian media, Bout revealed that he only wished Griner good luck. However, he also noted how the Phoenix Mercury player seemed to be “positively inclined” towards him, even reaching her hand out to him.
“I wished her luck, she even sort of reached out her hand to me,” Bout shared, via Reuters. “Again, it’s our tradition. You should wish everyone good fortune and happiness.”
Here’s the video of Griner and Bout when they were exchanged on the tarmac in Abu Dhabi by US and Russian government officials:
Russian state media release footage of the Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout prisoner swap: https://t.co/TuMxKvMmmI pic.twitter.com/xVgtQjrGbf
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) December 8, 2022
For those who missed it, the US and Russian government agreed on a prisoner swap for Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout after months of negotiations and intense media call-outs and back-and-forth. Unfortunately, American Paul Whelan was not included in the deal as Russia insisted on the Griner-Bout swap or nothing at all.
Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018 due to allegations of espionage.
Griner has since arrived in the USA, and based on recent reports, she’s in good spirits following her release. Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs who was with Griner when she was brought back to American soil, even shared a heartwarming story, highlighting the Mercury star’s state of mind.
“I’ve been in prison for 10 months, listening to the Russians. I want to talk,” Carstens said of what Griner told them during their return trip.
“I was left with the impression this is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting person, a patriotic person. But above all, authentic. I hate the fact that I had to meet her in this manner, but I actually felt blessed having had a chance to get to know her.”