US DOJ Officials Frustrated By 1-for-1 Swap Deal Leaving Whelan Out - Reports

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 09th December, 2022) US Justice Department officials expressed frustration the Biden administration was unable to secure Paul Whelan along with American basketball player Brittney Griner in exchange for Russian businessman Viktor Bout, CNN reported on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, Russia released Griner from prison in exchange for the United States releasing Bout. The latter was serving a 25-year sentence in the United States for alleged arms dealing.

The report said, citing sources familiar with the matter, that the one-for-one prisoner exchange was finalized in the past week.

US law enforcement officials from the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration strongly objected to the deal due to the number of years and elaborate efforts it took to try to capture Bout, the report said.

Law enforcement officials believe that the heavy amount of attention for Griner's release across social media put pressure on the Biden administration to agree to Russia's terms for the prisoner swap.

In late July, Western media reported that the United States had proposed to Russia that Moscow and Washington exchange Bout, sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in a US prison on charges of conspiring to murder American citizens, export anti-aircraft missiles and financially support terrorism, for US Marine Paul Whelan, sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in a Russian prison for spying, and Griner, sentenced in 2022 to nine years for illegally bringing cannabis oil to Russia.