Brittney Griner Aug 8, 2021; Saitama, Japan; United States centre Brittney Griner (15) reacts to a call against Japan in the women’s basketball gold medal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout – known as the “Merchant of Death” for his crimes – was used as collateral last year in a prisoner swap that secured the release WNBA superstar Brittney Griner from her 10-month imprisonment in Russia. And now, the arms dealer is speaking out on the whole situation.

For the first time since his release back in December of 2022, Viktor Bout spoke to an American media outlet, participating in an interview with ESPN. During the interview, he spoke at length about Brittney Griner as well as the prisoner swap that ultimately freed him and Griner.

During the interview, Bout revealed that he followed Griner and her imprisonment by watching coverage on CNN, ESPN and other American news networks while in prison. That’s also where he first learned that he could be involved in a prisoner swap.

“Look, I mean, in United States, I guess, only lazy would not, you know, cover her trial,” Bout told ESPN. “Every, you know, talking radio host, every news station, every TV channel on the news broadcast, so this was a big, big deal, I guess, you know, especially in jail.”

Bout also revealed that he wished Griner “good luck” during their prisoner swap, and admitted that she was a “political pawn.”

The Bout interview generated a lot of buzz on social media.