Griner case latest in string of high-profile prisoner swaps


Associated Press – Delicate negotiations between the US and Russia led to the basketball star Brittney Griner returns on Friday in exchange for the notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, once nicknamed the “Death Trader”.

It is the latest in a series of high-profile prisoner swaps involving Americans detained abroad. Here’s a look at some of the most notable exchanges.


Perhaps the most famous incident took place at the height of the Cold War when Powers, a pilot of a high-altitude U-2 spy plane shot down in the Soviet Union in 1960, was exchanged on a German bridge for married the Russian spy, Colonel Rudolph Abel. .

The swap is depicted in Steven Spielberg’s 2015 film “Bridge of Spies”.

Powers was criticized by some for allowing himself to be arrested but was cleared of wrongdoing. Documents declassified in 1998 show that Soviet intelligence obtained no important information from him, according to his biography on the website of the National Air and Space Museum.

In August 1986, Gennadiy Zakharov, a 39-year-old Soviet physicist and United Nations employee, was arrested by the FBI on charges of federal espionage.

A few days later, Daniloff, the head of the Moscow bureau of US News & World Report, arrested by the KGB after an acquaintance in the Soviet Union gave him a sealed package containing maps marked “top secret”.

The administration of President Ronald Reagan called Daniloff’s detention an “arrangement”, although Moscow denied it was retaliation for Zakharov’s arrest.

That September, Daniloff was released and Zakharov was allowed to leave the US

Bergdahl, a US Army sergeant, was handed over to US special forces in May 2014 after nearly 5 years in captivity in Afghanistan and to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio the following month.

In return, the United States released five Taliban prisoners being held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl disappeared from a base in Afghanistan’s Paktika province near the border with Pakistan in June 2009 and was called a deserter by some. He pleaded guilty to deserting and endangering his teammates in October 2017 and was humiliatingly fired, but not jailed.

This early year Reed, a Marine veteran imprisoned in Russia for nearly three years, was swapped for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot served a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the US

Reed was arrested in the summer of 2019 and later sentenced to nine years in prison after Russian authorities said he assaulted an officer while being taken to a police station after a night of binge drinking.

The US government says he was unjustly detained and his family insists he is innocent.

Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia in 2010 and extradited to the US on drug trafficking charges.

The four Americans include Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former US Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari was released from prison by the Iranian government in January 2016.

The United States pardoned or dropped charges against seven Iranians.

Rezaian and Hekmati, both accused of espionage by Tehran, said they were tortured while in custody. Abedini was detained for harming national security, presumably for converting to Christianity.


In what has been called the largest spy swap since the end of the Cold War, 10 sleeping agents infiltrating the American suburbs was sentenced to a term and deported in July 2010 after pleading guilty to conspiracy.

They include Anna Chapman, whose provocative photos on social media sites made her the focus of tabloids.

They were exchanged for four Russian prisoners accused of spying for the West.

The list was compiled by writer Mark Pratt of the Associated Press in Boston.


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