The administration of United States president Joe Biden announced a controversial prisoner swap with Russia on Thursday involving imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner and convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Here are five fascinating facts about Bout:
- Bout was purportedly born on January 13th, 1967 in the former Soviet Union, though the exact date and location of his birth ultimately remain unclear.
- He is a former Soviet military translator and entrepreneur.
- He used “multiple companies to smuggle weapons since the collapse of the Soviet Union from Eastern Europe to Africa and the Middle East during the 1990s and early 2000s,” according to Wikipedia.
- Bout was extradited to the United States in 2011 on narco-terrorism charges and convicted of conspiring to kill Americans, supply anti-aircraft missiles and of aiding a terrorist organization.
- He is the basis of the main character in Lord of War, the 2005 film featuring Nicolas Cage.
President Biden faced severe criticism online for not including imprisoned former United States Marine Paul Whalen in the exchange of Griner and Bout. Whalen’s family, for their part, heralded the exchange that earned Griner’s freedom. Biden said Thursday his administration continues to negotiate for Whalen’s release.
Bout is expected to return to Russia following his release from United States federal custody.