Who is Viktor Bout, the Russian arms trader dubbed the 'Merchant of Death'?

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Two Americans held in Russia may depend on the release of a convicted Russian arms dealer whose life inspired a Hollywood blockbuster. 

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Former Soviet military officer Viktor Bout is serving a 25-year jail sentence in the U.S

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conspiring to kill Americans, obtain and export anti-aircraft missiles, and fund a terrorist organisation.

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CNN said Wednesday that the Biden administration proposed Bout for Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan.

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On the same day, Griner testified in Russian court as part of her drug prosecution after her February arrest at a Moscow airport. 

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Whelan was convicted of espionage in a trial that US officials termed unjust.

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Their families have urged the White House to release them, including via prisoner exchange. 

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The Russian billionaire, who speaks six languages, was captured in 2008 in Thailand by US agents posing as FARC. 

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After a lengthy court case, he was extradited in 2010.

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