Footage captured the moment WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner and convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout were exchanged by US and Russian officials at an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, December 8.
Footage released by Zvezda, operated by the Russian defense ministry, shows Griner and Bout escorted to the swap point. A brief exchange occurs between the US and Russian parties, and they part ways, each with their respective citizens.
The exchange took place at Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Executive Airport.
Russian Customs Service detained Griner at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February, alleging that she was in possession of vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis. She was sentenced in August to nine years in prison and sent to a penal colony in western Russia after losing her appeal.
Bout, a convicted international arms dealer, was serving a 25-year sentence at a penitentiary in Illinois.
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, thanked members of the US government who had helped secure the swap. She also paid tribute to Paul Whelan, a retired Marine who has been imprisoned in Russia for four years on espionage charges. Credit: Zvezda via Storyful