Russia Protests Extradition of Viktor Bout
Paul Richter and John M. Glionna write in The Los Angeles Times:
The extradition of alleged Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout from Thailand to the United States on Tuesday drew sharp protests from Russian officials, who insist the so-called merchant of death is an innocent businessman.
Bout, a former Soviet air force officer who reportedly maintains strong ties to Russian intelligence, had been put aboard a chartered a plane under tight security in Bangkok and arrived in suburban New York in manacles late Tuesday. He faces four federal terrorism charges, U.S. officials said.
Bout is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday. According to an indictment unsealed in May 2008, three of the counts carry a maximum life sentence and the fourth a prison term of up to 15 years.
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Bout, 43, reputed to be one of the world's most prolific arms dealers, was arrested in March 2008 in Bangkok as part of a U.S.-Thai sting operation in which agents posed as arms buyers for the rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
While held in a maximum-security prison in Thailand, Bout fought extradition to the United States. His detention in Thailand was to expire within days.