A video showing the moment the U.S. handed over convicted terrorist Viktor “the Merchant of Death” Bout in exchange for basketball player Brittney Griner is going viral.
The video recorded by Russian state media outlet TASS shows the exact moment the two were exchanged, TMZ Sports reported.
In the video, Griner, wearing a plaid red jacket, is seen walking past a group of officials who were escorting Bout back to Russia.
As Bout walks away with his Russian escort, Griner is seen being ushered over to a representative of either the United Arab Emirates or the Saudis, both of whom acted as intermediaries between Russia and the U.S. to affect Griner’s release and the prisoner swap.
Video of the WNBA player taken on the plane as she prepared to depart Russian soil was also released:
Video released by Russian State media shows a very happy BG boarding a plane before she was released into US custody pic.twitter.com/XIzB85S0IH
— Jadé (@JadeALawson) December 8, 2022
The lopsided trade caused many an eyebrow to be raised.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D, NJ), for one, calls the trade “deeply disturbing.”
“The Russians and other regimes that take American citizens hostage cannot pretend that there is equivalence between the Brittney Griner’s of the world and people like Viktor Bout, the so-called ‘Merchant of Death.’ Nothing could be further from the truth, and we cannot ignore that releasing Bout back into the world is a deeply disturbing decision,” Menendez said on Thursday. “We must stop inviting dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans overseas as bargaining chips, and we must try do better at encouraging American citizens against traveling to places like Russia where they are primary targets for this type of unlawful detention.”
Thousands of Twitter users agreed with Sen. Menendez that trading a dangerous terrorist for a mere basketball player was a bad deal.
Many pointed out that in particular that the drug-using Griner has also spent years attacking the USA and refusing to stand for the national anthem.
In July of 2020, Griner told the sports media, “I honestly feel we should not play the national anthem during our season. I think we should take that much of a stand.”
Even if the league decided to play the anthem, Griner said she was going to stand with others against the country anyway.
“I’m going to protest regardless. I’m not going to be out there for the national anthem,” she said. “If the league continues to want to play it, that’s fine. It will be all season long, I’ll not be out there. I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing. I can only speak for myself.”