Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian courtroom on Thursday, as the wrangling over the American basketball star’s fate shifted increasingly to the diplomatic arena — a daunting prospect for Ms. Griner’s supporters amid America’s rift with Moscow over the war in Ukraine. Appearing before a judge outside the Russian capital on the second day of her trial, Ms. Griner said she had unintentionally carried a banned substance into the country because she had packed in a hurry. The Russian authorities say they found vape cartridges with 0.7 grams of cannabis oil in her luggage when Ms. Griner arrived in February to play basketball, and she has been detained ever since, facing 10 years in prison in a penal colony. “I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Ms. Griner said in English, which was then translated into Russian, according to a Reuters reporter in the courtroom. Ms. Griner told the court she would say … [Read more...] about Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges in Russian Court
Drug dealer vs drug trafficking
As the trial began last week in Federal District Court in Manhattan, the lawyers for three West African defendants made a series of highly unusual admissions: One after another, they told the jury that their clients were involved in the global drug trade. “He has been, for a very long time, a very active international drug merchant all over the world,” the first man’s lawyer said. The second man transported “merchandise” by land and sea, his lawyer said, adding for clarity, “The merchandise was cocaine.” The third man was willing to transport cocaine, his lawyer said, “if the price was right.” But the three lawyers were steadfast in their denials that their clients had ever agreed to send drugs into the United States, the central accusation of a high-profile sting operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors in Manhattan. The sting led to the men’s arrests last year in Liberia; they were later sent here for trial. Prosecutors have said … [Read more...] about Admitting Clients Are Drug Traffickers, but Denying Guilt
Bout flashing a victory sign in detention in Bangkok in 2009. Photo: PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP via Getty Images After nearly ten months in detention in Russia, WNBA star Brittney Griner is returning to the United States after the U.S. negotiated a rare prisoner swap in exchange for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout . The entire ordeal has been a strange example of jockeying between two powerful adversaries — Griner’s arrest for bringing less than a gram of hashish oil into the country, her nine-year sentence in a remote penal colony — made stranger by the trade for Bout, a notorious gun trafficker sentenced to 25 years in the U.S. for a litany of charges. As Bout heads home, here are some of the wildest clips from the notorious career of the so-called “merchant of death.” A competitive volleyball player born in what is now Tajikistan in 1967, Bout used his connections from his time in the Soviet military to begin moving weapons from the fallen Soviet Union in … [Read more...] about The 7 Craziest Facts of Arms Trafficker Viktor Bout’s Career
The “Merchant of Death” may bring down a few U.S. government officials with him. Federal law enforcement agents tell The Daily Beast that the extradition to the U.S. of Victor Bout , the former Russian military officer long considered one of the world’s most dangerous and prolific arms dealers, should alarm officials at the Pentagon, CIA and elsewhere who approved contracts during the Iraq war that indirectly paid out millions of dollars to Bout’s far-flung business empire. If Bout agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department in a plea agreement sparing him life in prison, “we’ll certainly want to know more from him about the circumstances of those Iraq contracts,” said a law-enforcement official with detailed knowledge of the criminal case against Bout. The official was referring to large U.S. military contracts in 2003 and 2004 in which Bout’s cargo companies were used as subcontractors to deliver military supplies to U.S. forces in Iraq. “We’d want to understand if our … [Read more...] about Victor Bout: Arms Dealer Poses Threat to U.S.-Russia Relations
To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android . Shortly after his conviction in 2011 on charges including conspiring to kill American citizens, the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout relayed a defiant message through his lawyer as he faced the prospect of decades in prison. Mr. Bout, his lawyer said , “believes this is not the end.” More than a decade later, Mr. Bout, 55, has been freed , despite serving less than half of his 25-year prison sentence. He was exchanged on Thursday for the American basketball star Brittney Griner, who had been imprisoned in Russia for 10 months. Russian officials had pressed for Mr. Bout’s return since his conviction by a New York jury on four counts that included conspiring to kill American citizens. Prosecutors said he had agreed to sell antiaircraft weapons to drug enforcement informants who were posing as arms buyers for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The … [Read more...] about Who Is Viktor Bout, the Arms Dealer in the Swap for Brittney Griner?
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) predicted on Thursday that leftist President Joe Biden’s decision to trade imprisoned basketball player Brittney Griner for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “merchant of death,” would result in people dying as rogue states interpreted the move as open season to arrest Americans. Biden announced and the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that Griner and Bout were both free. “As a result of the efforts made, we managed to agree with the American side to arrange an exchange of Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner. The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland,” the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed. Biden said he personally spoke to Griner in a post on Twitter. Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner. She is safe. pic.twitter.com/FmHgfzrcDT — President Biden (@POTUS) December 8, 2022 Asked on Thursday by Breitbart News Daily host Alex Marlow if people would die as a result of Viktor Bout being released … [Read more...] about Tom Cotton: People Will Die Because Biden Traded ‘Merchant of Death’ for Brittney Griner