Russian Arms Dealer Loses Appeal

Jefferson Morley

A federal appeals court in late September upheld the conviction of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, a decision that the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned as “unjust and politicized.”

Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 following a series of meetings with undercover agents posing as arms buyers for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. He was extradited to the United States, where he was convicted in November 2011 of conspiring to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, kill U.S. nationals, kill U.S. officials, and provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. (See ACT, December 2011.) In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The legal proceedings against Bout set off to a bitter diplomatic dispute between Washington and Moscow, with Russia attempting to have Bout, a former Soviet military officer, transferred to Russia to serve his sentence.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York found “no merit” in Bout’s claim his extradition was illegal because it resulted from what he called “coercive political pressure” exerted by Washington on the Thai government.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s Sept. 28 statement said that judges had “ignored the obvious facts of the illegal actions of the American special services” during Bout’s arrest.

The statement said the ministry and the Russian embassy in the Washington would continue to support Bout “to ensure his speedy return to the homeland.”

Bout is serving his sentence at a U.S. medium-security prison in Marion, Illinois