After months of extensive discussions, the US was able to free Griner in exchange for the release of infamous Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Paul Whelan, another American prisoner held by the Kremlin, who was rumored to have been involved in the high-profile negotiations over Griner, was excluded from the deal. Griner, an Olympic gold winner, was held in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, on charges that she was trafficking cannabis oil. Bout was held liable in 2011 on all four charges of the indictment: conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to kill officials and employees of the U.S., conspiracy to acquire and utilize antiaircraft missiles, and conspiracy to provide material assistance or resources to a terrorist group. Given Bout’s conviction in a U.S. court for aiding and abetting FARC, it’s a rather tricky subject for the Biden administration, now facing a rising chorus to call Russia itself a state sponsor of terrorism.