Russia frees US basketball star in swap with 'Merchant of Death' arms dealer 1 month ago

Russia frees US basketball star in swap with 'Merchant of Death' arms dealer

Viktor Bout's gun-running inspired the 2005 Hollywood film Lord of War.

US basketball star Brittney Griner is to be exchanged for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in a prisoner swap agreement between the US and Russia.

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Griner was held at a Moscow airport in February for possessing cannabis oil and was last month sent to a penal colony.

Bout has been held in a US prison for 12 years.

The swap was approved by US President Joe Biden in recent days, sources told CBS.

The US is said to have proposed the exchange, aware that Moscow had long sought Bout's release.

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Bout sold arms to warlords and rogue governments, becoming one of the world's most wanted men and earning him the nickname the "Merchant of Death".

The Russian's exploits inspired the 2005 Hollywood film Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage, which was loosely based on his life.

Bout's gun-running was brought to an end by an elaborate US sting in 2008 when he was arrested at a hotel in Bangkok.

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He was extradited two years later and has spent the past 12 years in an American jail for conspiring to support terrorists and kill Americans.