A prisoner exchange between the US and Russia? Basketball player Greiner – on the “spy” Bout

Marat Araslanov

Marat Araslanov

The case of the UMMC basketball player turns into a real spy thriller.

The Brittney Greiner case is gaining momentum. The star of the US national team was detained at Sheremetyevo airport in the winter, and since that time she has been in custody. The reason is the presence of drugs that were found in her hand luggage. On May 13, the court once again extended the conclusion of the athlete. Now Greiner will definitely remain in custody until June 18.

The Olympic champion back in mid-March refused to challenge the charge of drug smuggling in court and is now waiting for help from the US authorities and Russian lawyers.

American basketball star arrested in Russia.  She faces jail time for importing drugs
American basketball star arrested in Russia. She faces jail time for importing drugs

In the US, this case immediately turned out to be resonant, since Greiner is a prominent part of the basketball community. Basketball players wear T-shirts with her image, and on the home court of her “Phoenix” initials – BG are applied.

Brittney Greiner before the match

Brittney Greiner before the match

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Almost immediately after the news of Brittney’s arrest broke, the comments began to discuss a possible exchange between the two countries. And very often the name of Viktor Bout began to sound. The Russian businessman in 2012 was convicted in the United States for 25 years. An American court found him guilty of preparing a conspiracy to kill Americans and materially support terrorism.

The Russian refused to cooperate with the investigation, pleaded not guilty and was originally supposed to be released from prison in 2030. However, in early February, news broke that Bout could become free four years ahead of schedule.

“If nothing unexpected happens, based on the terms of the sentence, Victor should be released early anyway,” his lawyer said.

The lawyer explained that the Russian earned an early release thanks to points for good behavior in prison. Against this background, the US authorities are no longer seeking to extend Bout’s sentence. Also then, details appeared that after serving the term, Bout would be deported to Russia.

If everything is clear with Greiner’s story – she is an athlete who (apparently) was not very familiar with the laws of the country where she played for a long time and earned millions of dollars, then little is known about Viktor Bout.

In Russia, he is called an entrepreneur who dealt with weapons. In the US, they say that he had five different passports, several names, and he resorted to the tricks that intelligence officers usually use: different names, different countries of registration of aircraft, constantly obfuscated the traces.

Booth’s business was really huge. He traded with many countries and sold weapons to places where the UN did not allow it. During the trial, the prosecution cited the facts of the export of weapons from closed Russian enterprises and warehouses in Rostov-on-Don, Novorossiysk and St. Petersburg.

Viktor Bout after his arrest

Viktor Bout after his arrest

Photo: US Department of Justice/Getty Images

Surprisingly, the US authorities also used Bout’s services. So, for example, in 2004 (after filing a case against him in America), the Pentagon used the services of a Russian businessman who was asked to deliver military supplies to Iraq.

The content of Bout in an American prison cannot be called a holiday. In 2021, without explanation, the Russian was transferred to the communications control unit, a special prison for terrorists, from where contacts are allowed only with close relatives. One of the differences in communicating with relatives while staying there is that you need to inform security about an upcoming call two weeks in advance.

Greiner faces up to 10 years in prison in Russia, but the State Department is trying to actively get involved and help her compatriot. US officials have already called Brittney’s detention “illegal”.

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No one knows for sure how real the exchange between the two countries is. The two sides are now negotiating, but no progress has yet been announced. However, the recent exchange between the US and Russia, which took place in Turkey, gives hope for a positive outcome.


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