Viktor Bout, coined the “Merchant of Death” by the media, has appealed to Russian leaders to prevent his extradition from Thailand to the United States.
On Thursday, Bout’s mother read out his letter to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Moscow.
Bout swears that his business was absolutely legal and solicits help in promoting his return to Russia.
In a separate address to President Medvedev, Bout’s wife, Alla Bout, also appealed to Russian officials. Undoubtedly, she is worried about the life sentence Bout is facing if convicted in the U.S.
Bout was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 at the request of the United States. U.S. officials blame Bout for allegedly collaborating with Colombia’s FARC rebels. Bout’s extradition to the United States was ordered by the Thai appeals court on August 20 in what the Russian Foreign Ministry said was a politically motivated move initiated by Washington. On February 17, the United States brought new charges against Bout, accusing him of ostensibly violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
The charges were passed over to the Thai criminal court two hours before the appeals court reached its verdict on the 2008 accusations. In accordance with Thai law, Bout cannot be extradited to the United States until the second charges are brought to court.
Bout will most likely use this time to appeal to Russian officials and the media for help in the proceedings. The tensions between Russia and the U.S. over this matter will most likely increase if Russian officials take action against the U.S. government. Thailand, unfortunately, is in the awkward position of balancing the political powers of these two countries when it eventually has to make a decision on whether to extradite Bout to the U.S.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at one of the offices listed above.