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News :: War and Militarism
'Merchant of Death' defense says no extradition to U.S.
11 Jun 2008
MOSCOW, June 11 (RIA Novosti) - A lawyer for an alleged Russian arms dealer in custody in Thailand on suspicion of illegal arms trading and other crimes, said Wednesday his client is unlikely to be extradited to the United States.
16:43 | 11/ 06/ 2008

Earlier Wednesday, AFP quoted U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey as saying he was "very optimistic" about Viktor Bout extradition chances to face terrorism charges in the U.S.

Bout's lawyer, Yan Dasgupta, said regarding Mukasey's statement: "I do not share the optimism of the respected U.S. attorney general. I think the process will go properly and will result in a refusal [to extradite Bout]. There are no prospects for extradition - the request and charges are insane. They were spun out of thin air."

He also said the defense considers the extradition request in legal terms is out of line with an international extradition agreement between the U.S. and Thailand.

Earlier a Thai court postponed until July 28 the first hearing of Viktor Bout's extradition case as Bout's Thai lawyer had developed "a heart problem."

Thailand received in early May a formal request from Washington to extradite Bout to the U.S., where he has been indicted on four charges: conspiracy to kill Americans, and U.S. officers or employees, conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile.

Viktor Bout, 41, was arrested in March in Bangkok during a joint police operation led by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

DEA prosecutors claim that Bout conspired with others to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a leftist group listed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

Bout is a former lieutenant in the Russian military who quit the armed forces in 1991. He then allegedly transformed himself into an international arms dealer, earning the nickname 'the Merchant of Death.' The Western media has consistently referred to him as a "former KGB officer."

If convicted, he could face life imprisonment or, at the very least, a long prison term.

Western law enforcement agencies consider him to be "the most prominent foreign businessman" involved in trafficking arms to UN-embargoed destinations.

UN reports say Bout set up a network of more than 50 cargo aircraft around the world to facilitate his arms shipments.

U.S. authorities took measures against Bout in 2005, freezing his bank accounts and submitting a list of 30 companies linked to Bout to the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee.

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