Russian state news agency TASS published video last week showing the prisoner exchange involving arms dealer Viktor Bout and WNBA star Brittney Griner on the airport tarmac in the United Arab Emirates.
In the short video, Griner, who is accompanied by three Russian men, heads towards Bout, who was walking with an American man. When both parties approached each other the men with Griner greeted Bout, shaking hands and hugging. Critics noticed that the video then jumps to Griner walking away with the American man Bout came off the plane with.
What happened? Why cut the video? Critics guessed it may have shown Griner shaking hands with the "Merchant of Death," who has been described by US officials as "one of the most dangerous men on the face of the earth."
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
Now, Bout has confirmed what took place.
“I wished her good luck, she even extended her hand,” he told Russia’s state-run RT television network on Saturday. “Our tradition is to wish everyone good luck and happiness.”
He also confirmed that Griner engaged with him during the prisoner swap. "Yes, she did, and I felt she was very positive towards me.”
In the wide-ranging interview with RT, Bout, who had spent 14 years in prison, spoke about the war in Ukraine, saying he "fully support[s] it."
“If I had the opportunity and the necessary skills, I would certainly volunteer," he added.