Eagle-eyed critics noticed something unusual about the video Russian state news agency TASS published showing the prisoner exchange of WNBA player Brittney Griner for convicted terrorist Viktor Bout, also known as the “merchant of death.”
In the 26-second clip, Griner and Bout appear on an airport runway in the United Arab Emirates walking towards each other. The former, in a red jacket, is accompanied by three men, while the latter walks toward her with one individual.
One of the men with Griner immediately approaches Bout, shakes his hand and gives him a hug. Bout then greets the second man with Griner, and then the video cuts to Griner walking away with the man Bout originally came off the plane with.
Russian news agency TASS publishes footage of the Brittney Griner/Viktor Bout exchange. pic.twitter.com/QmOItTEQ3O— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) December 8, 2022
The cut was quickly spotted by critics on social media who argued the missing piece was Griner shaking Bout's hand.
lol they edited out the shot of Griner shaking the merchant of death's handpic.twitter.com/w2cH32Ls4V— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) December 9, 2022
Probably not great optics there to have your star prisoner swap shaking hands with the most notorious arms dealer on the planet.— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) December 8, 2022
In 2010, "60 Minutes" reported on Bout's capture, with Michael Braun, the former chief of operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, describing him as "one of the most dangerous men on the face of the earth."
Still can’t believe we traded the Merchant of Death straight up for Britney Griner. pic.twitter.com/knzZXonOdW— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) December 8, 2022