Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout was freed last week from a 25-year US prison sentence in swap for American basketball star Brittney Griner.

He has joined the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), according to the party’s leader, a Kremlin loyalist.

On Telegram on Monday, LDPR leader Leonid Slutsky said “the party card of the Liberal Democratic Party” had been “personally handed” to Bout.

“I am sure that Viktor Bout – a strong-willed and courageous person – will take a worthy place in it. Welcome to our ranks!,” he wrote in a post that included a picture of the two men.

Bout returned to Russia on Dec 8 after being released in exchange for Griner, who was arrested in mid-February after officials at Moscow airport when cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

Griner, who the US State Department has said was “wrongfully detained”, was sentenced to nine years in prison in August.

Bout had been arrested by US authorities in Thailand in 2008, with prosecutors charging that his extensive arms smuggling in hotspots across the world amounted to material support of “terrorism”.