Griner case latest in string of high-profile prisoner swaps

Dec 8, 2022, 10:21 PM | Updated: Dec 9, 2022, 12:33 pm
FILE - Joey and Paula Reed pose for a photo with a portrait of their son, Marine veteran and Russia...

FILE - Joey and Paula Reed pose for a photo with a portrait of their son, Marine veteran and Russian prisoner Trevor Reed, at their home in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 15, 2022. Negotiations between the U.S. and Russia led to basketball star Brittney Griner's return to the U.S. on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. It is the latest in a series of high-profile prisoner swaps involving Americans detained abroad, one of whom was Reed, an American imprisoned in Russia for nearly three years. He was swapped for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

              WNBA star Brittney Griner deplanes at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, following her release in a prisoner swap with Russia, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
            
              FILE - This archive image shows U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers. Negotiations between the U.S. and Russia led to basketball star Brittney Griner's return to the U.S. on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. It is the latest in a series of high-profile prisoner swaps involving Americans detained abroad, one of whom was high-altitude U-2 spy plane pilot Powers, who had been shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 and was exchanged on a German bridge for Russian spy Col. Rudolph Abel. (AP Photo, File)
            
              FILE - Joey and Paula Reed pose for a photo with a portrait of their son, Marine veteran and Russian prisoner Trevor Reed, at their home in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 15, 2022. Negotiations between the U.S. and Russia led to basketball star Brittney Griner's return to the U.S. on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. It is the latest in a series of high-profile prisoner swaps involving Americans detained abroad, one of whom was Reed, an American imprisoned in Russia for nearly three years. He was swapped for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
            FILE - Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrives for a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., Jan. 12, 2016. Negotiations between the U.S. and Russia led to basketball star Brittney Griner's return to the U.S. on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. It is the latest in a series of high-profile prisoner swaps involving Americans detained abroad, one of whom was Bergdahl. He was handed over to U.S. special forces in May 2014 after nearly five years in captivity in Afghanistan, and arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in the June 2014. In exchange, the U.S. released five Taliban prisoners being held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AP Photo/Ted Richardson, File)

Associated Press (AP) — Delicate negotiations between the United States and Russia led to basketball star Brittney Griner’s return Friday in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, once nicknamed “the Merchant of Death.”

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

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FRANCIS GARY POWERS, 1962

Perhaps the most famous one came at the height of the Cold War when Powers, a high-altitude U-2 spy plane pilot who was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, was exchanged on a German bridge for Russian spy Col. Rudolph Abel.

The swap was depicted in Steven Spielberg’s 2015 movie “Bridge of Spies.”

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

___

NICHOLAS DANILOFF, 1986

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

Days later Daniloff, the Moscow bureau chief for U.S. News & World Report, was arrested by the KGB after a Soviet acquaintance handed him a closed package containing maps marked “top secret.”

The administration of President Ronald Reagan called Daniloff’s detention a “setup,” though Moscow denied it was retaliation for Zakharov’s arrest.

That September, Daniloff was released and Zakharov was allowed to leave the U.S.

___

BOWE BERGDAHL, 2014

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

In exchange, the United States released five Taliban prisoners being held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl had vanished 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 desertion and endangering his comrades in October 2017 and was dishonorably discharged, but was not imprisoned.

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TREVOR REED, 2022

Earlier this year Reed, a Marine veteran imprisoned in Russia for nearly three years, was swapped for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.

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

The U.S. government said he was unjustly detained, and his family maintained his innocence.

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

___

US-IRAN SWAP, 2016

Four Americans including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari were released from prison by Iranian authorities in January 2016.

The U.S. pardoned or dropped charges against seven Iranians.

Rezaian and Hekmati, who were both charged with espionage by Tehran, said they were tortured while in custody. Abedini was detained for compromising national security, presumably because of Christian proselytizing.

___

RUSSIAN SLEEPER AGENTS, 2010

In what was called the biggest spy swap since the end of the Cold War, 10 sleeper agents who infiltrated suburban America were sentenced to time served and deported in July 2010 after pleading guilty to conspiracy.

They included Anna Chapman, whose sultry photos on social media sites made her a tabloid sensation.

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

___

List compiled by Associated Press writer Mark Pratt in Boston.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Griner case latest in string of high-profile prisoner swaps