The Russian ambassador to Washington, Anatoli Antonov, announced Thursday that he intends to visit Viktor Bout, an arms dealer known as the ‘merchant of death’, imprisoned in a U.S. jail, in the coming week.
“I would like to talk about this officially for the first time. In a week I plan to visit Viktor. I had already been given permission for this and I hope that no artificial barriers will arise on behalf of the United States,” Antonov has told in an interview to Russia’s Channel One.
In August, Moscow confirmed contacts with Washington on the occasion of the possible exchange of Viktor Bout convicted in the United States for arms trafficking, with basketball player Brittney Griner, imprisoned in a Russian jail for drug possession and trafficking. The exchange could also include Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen convicted in Russia for espionage.
Bout was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2008 after being caught trying to close an arms deal with undercover agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) posing as guerrillas of the now defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Two years later he was extradited to the United States, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for arms trafficking and attempted murder of U.S. citizens and officials.