Russia reportedly demanded that convicted hit man Vadim Krasikov be part of any prisoner exchange involving Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who was imprisoned by the Kremlin on espionage charges the U.S. claims are bogus.
Russia wanted Krasikov, serving a life sentence in Germany over the 2019 assassination of a Chechen rebel in Berlin, along with convicted arms dealer and terrorist Viktor Bout in exchange for Whelan and imprisoned U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, CNN reported Friday. But Germany was not willing to release Krasikov.
Griner was released Thursday from a Russian penal colony, where she had been imprisoned after being convicted of drug possession in Moscow in August, after the U.S. released Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death" and who was serving a 25-year prison sentence, to Russian authorities.
"We have shown an openness to talk about that which is actually available to us and gotten only in response a demand for something not available to us," a senior Biden administration official told CNN.
CNN reported the U.S. made other offers to Russia for Whelan such as Alexander Vinnik, who was extradited from Greece to the U.S. in August and is facing charges of money laundering, and Roman Seleznev, a convicted Russian cybercriminal serving a 14-year sentence in the U.S.; but the Russians wanted to exchange Whelan, whom they consider a spy, for a Russian spy, Krasikov.
Frédéric Bélot, an attorney who represented Vinnik in France before his extradition to the U.S., told CNN he could see Vinnik being part of future negotiations for a prisoner swap.
"They [Vinnik and Whelan] make part of the possible 'candidates' for the next swap," Bélot said.
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