OPINION | This article contains opinion that reflects the author's views.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy questioned President Joe Biden’s recent release of notorious Russian terrorist arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in a U.S. prison, in exchange for WNBA player Brittney Griner from a Russian prison.
Doocy said Russia got “such a better deal.”
🚨 POLL: Was this a good prison swap for the U.S.?
YES 👍 or NO 👎
Fox News’ Peter Doocy: “In this [Brittney Griner] prisoner swap, why did Russia get such a better deal? … They gave up a professional athlete, we gave up a prolific arms dealer.”
WH Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre: “The professional athlete is also an American citizen.” pic.twitter.com/HLF3dcG6Gm
— The Recount (@therecount) December 8, 2022
“They gave up a professional athlete, we gave up a prolific arms dealer, who was convicted of trying to kill Americans, who is called ‘The Merchant of Death,’” he said.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded. “The professional athlete is also an American citizen, so let’s not forget that.”
“Again, the president felt that this was an opportunity to bring Brittney home. He is going to continue to do everything he can to bring Paul Whelan home,” she continued.
Meet Brittney Griner & Marine Paul Whelan.
Both were convicted in Russian courts on dubious charges.
Both serving multi-year sentences in Russian prison.
Brittney hates America
Paul served America
Guess which one Biden traded a terrorist to free?
Semper fi Paul pic.twitter.com/tuP1R6AZpf
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) December 8, 2022
52-year-old retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan was sentenced to 16 years of “hard labor” in a Russian prison after being accused of an intelligence operation.
“This was not a choice of which American to bring home,” Biden said.
To Whelan’s family, Biden said, “We’ll keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release. I guarantee that. I say that to the family. I guarantee you. I urge Russia to do the same to ensure that Paul’s health and humane treatment are maintained until we are able to bring him home.”
Whelan was left behind in the deal. He served in the Marines for 14 years.
“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release,” Whelan responded. “Especially as the four year anniversary of my arrest is coming up.”
“I was arrested for a crime that never occurred,” he told CNN from a Russian prison. “I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here.”
Griner was arrested at a Russian airport and admitted to charges of drug possession and smuggling, which carry a penalty of 10 years in prison. She was sentenced to 9 years.
Whelan, on the other hand, says he never committed a crime. He was falsely accused of being a spy for the U.S.
“They’ve put me at a level higher than what they did with Trevor (Reed) and Brittney,” he explained.
“That raises a lot of concerns because none of it is true. And they’re trying to get out of United States, what the United States may not be able to provide, but this is basically political extortion.”
“They’ve always considered me to be at a higher level than other criminals of my sort and for whatever reason, I’m treated differently than another individual here from a Western country that’s also on a charge of espionage. So even though we’re both here for espionage, I’m treated much differently than he is, and my treatment is also much different than others held for espionage at other prisons.”
Biden traded Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout who is a violent criminal. He inspired the movie “Lord of War” starring Nicholas Cage.
Bout was found guilty of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to deliver anti-aircraft missiles, and aiding a terrorist organization.
He offered $20 million in weapons to a narco-terrorist group called Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Bout earned the nickname “Merchant of Death” because he gain notoriety for flying Soviet-era cargo planes to conflict-ridden hotspots in Africa. He was only roughly half-way through his sentence.
As I wrote back in July, the U.S. trading the world's most notorious arms dealer to Russia in order to get back Brittney Griner looks to me like a straight-up case of paying the Dane-Geld. https://t.co/rYkIaQgvLL pic.twitter.com/SlxWFMECK1
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) December 8, 2022
This “breathtaking arsenal of weapons” included hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and sniper rifles. He also offered 10 million rounds of ammunition and five tons of plastic explosives.
Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” was captured in a sting operation carried out by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informants in Bangkok, Thailand.
Experts cited by Fox News have warned against trading Bout in the exchange.
Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler explained, “Moscow wants him back because he possesses critical insights that he can share with the GRU, his former agency.”
“Having been in a U.S. prison and interrogated by U.S. officials, he knows what our intelligence requirements are and other information that is valuable for the Russians,” Koffler said.
America-hating pothead Brittney Griner is being prisoner swapped back to the US for the most dangerous man in the World, Viktor Bout, the Merchant of Death.
Why would Biden do this now?
Exactly when Putin would profit most from having the biggest arms dealer home? pic.twitter.com/B9mD34rv7M
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) December 8, 2022
“It would be a big mistake for the U.S. to give up Viktor Bout, as much as one feels compassion for Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan,” he added.
Biden celebrated the decision to trade Bout for Griner’s release. “Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner,” he said. “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home.”
Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner.
She is safe.
She is on a plane.
She is on her way home. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022