July 28, 2008
Contributing Experts Steven Emerson and Douglas Farah will testify before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade this Thursday at 10:30 am ET in room 2200 of the Rayburn House Building.
One of the subjects of the hearing will be whether U.S. relations with Thailand should be tied more closely to the Thai government's decision on the extradition of Viktor Bout to the U.S. to stand trial for charges alleged in an indictment.
1 August 2008
His wife, a dowdy petite woman who claimed not to speak English, stood quietly whispering to Russia Today's journalist, who claimed to be a friend of Bout. Fair and balanced reporting there then.
Thai judges and lawyers spoke among themselves and it was quickly clear there would be no hearing - Bout's new lawyer was unavailable. His previous lawyer had been sick on the date of an earlier hearing. So we filed out, ready to pounce on the shackled Russian once more as he was led back to his cell, pencilling September 26th for our next date with international justice.
It is interesting to note that Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, one of the closest allies of Mr Putin, the Prime Minister, visited Venezuela and Cuba this week. Sechin is widely reported to be the main backer of Viktor Bout
(In an ominous sign that Bout’s extradition will not be approved, the Thai appellate court, for the first time this week, rejected a U.S. extradition request. This one was for Jamshid Ghassemi, an Iranian indicted in the United States for acquiring dual-use equipment and accelerometers for Iran’s nuclear program. The court ruling gave no reasons for its decision, which is unappealable, and foul play is suspected.
There are several parallels to the Bout case, where the Russians have been offering large financial inducements, oil deals and preferential weapons deals in exchange for Bout’s freedom.
1 november 2008
Viktor Anatolyevich Bout is without any doubt the biggest political prisoner of today. For the readers among you that have never heard about Mr. Bout before, I will give you a little introduction in this article.
In Afghanistan he is known to have delivered goods to both sides of the pre-‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ era. He did similar things in Africa and in many cases the ‘customers’ knew about it but Viktor was their only reliable delivery man, so with their arms tied behind their back, they ignored that fact and kept on doing business with him.
At any time, Viktor Bout owned a fleet of about 60 heavy cargo planes, which had tail number and registration shifted constantly. Over the years, many people involved in the investigations around him thought that some high-placed persons (mainly in the US and Russia) were keeping their hands above his head so that he could handle his business without inconvenience.
Defense attorney Preecha Prasertsak petitioned the court to dismiss the extradition case, arguing that his client had been illegally detained when he was first arrested.
Prosecutor Sanchai Krungkanjana argued that the first arrest warrant had been dropped because "there was insufficient evidence in Thailand" but there was enough evidence in the U.S. to approve Bout's extradition and the second warrant.
"We don't see any grounds to prove that it was an illegal detention," Sanchai told The Associated Press after the hearing.
The next hearing is expected on Nov. 18.