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Russia criticizes call for Bout extradition

Russia criticizes call for Bout extradition

Russia's foreign ministry on Saturday criticized a push by American congressmen for the extradition to the United States of Viktor Bout, a Russian wanted for allegedly trying to smuggle missiles and rocket launchers to Colombian rebels.
Bout has been jailed in Thailand since his arrest there a year ago. More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers this week called for the Obama administration to ensure he is extradited.
The legislators said Russian authorities want Bout turned over to them, raising the possibility he could avoid trial in the United States. Russia in the past has rejected requests to extradite its citizens, most notably in the case of Andrei Lugovoi, whom Britain has named as the main suspect in the killing by radioactive poison of exiled security agent Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the congressmen's call was "bewildering" because charges against Bout in Thailand have been dropped and "his guilt on charges put forth in the United States has not been proven."
"Such activity on the part of parliamentarians in a nation that purports to be a paragon of rule and law and observance of human rights looks embarrassing to say the least," the statement said. It also suggested the push was "an attempt to derail efforts by Washington and Moscow to relaunch American-Russian cooperation."
Bout, reputed to be one of the world's most prolific arms dealers, was caught at a Bangkok luxury hotel in an elaborate sting operation. Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration posed as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, looking to buy millions of dollars in weapons from Bout. FARC is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
U.S. authorities long have considered Bout a weapons smuggler whose alleged list of customers included former dictator Charles Taylor of Liberia, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (now known as Congo) and both sides of the civil war in Angola. In Afghanistan, he also allegedly armed the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance.
He was charged in the United States with conspiracy for allegedly trying to smuggle missiles and rocket launchers to the FARC. Bout also faces charges conspiring to kill U.S. officers or employees. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Bout has denied the charges.


Updated : 2021-10-28 02:59 GMT+08:00