Victor Bout's extradition unsafe for the world?

The story of the arrest of businessman Victor Bout has been ongoing for over four years. It involves not only a criminal element, but also political interests of Russia and the United States. Now the U.S. Attorney General is considering extradition of Viktor Bout to Russia. Kathi Lynn Austin, director of the International Organization ATS, said that his extradition was not safe for the world.

It all started in the late-1990s, when the U.S. government launched an investigation into the activities of the Russian businessman Victor Bout. George W. Bush in 2006 froze Bout's assets, arguing that the activities of the Russian businessman threatened the implementation of the American foreign policy in the Congo. In 2008 representatives of the U.S. Drug Enforcement under the guise of Colombian rebels offered Bout to meet in Bangkok. The meeting had to do with a possibility of making a transaction for the supply of modern weapons. During the call, records incriminating Bout were made that later become evidence in court. On March 6, 2008, Thai police arrested Bout at Sofitel Silom Road Hotel. He was accused of providing assistance to Colombian terrorists that the American agents were disguised as.
On August 11, 2009, Thai court denied the U.S. extradition of Bout, explaining its decision by the fact that the radical organization of Colombian FARC that Bout allegedly sold weapons to was not a terrorist but a political one. On August 20, 2010 Thai court has ordered to satisfy the request of the U.S. authorities for the extradition of Viktor Bout. A small business jet with Viktor Bout on board left Thailand on November 16, 2010. Victor Bout was taken to court in Manhattan in an armored car accompanied by five SUVs. Victor pleaded not guilty. He was placed in a temporary detention center   also known as a "jail for very important people."

For 15 months Bout was held in solitary confinement with artificial lighting around the clock and no windows. There was no fresh air in his cell, and his bed, chair and table were made of concrete; walks were prohibited. On April 5, 2012, a New York court sentenced Bout to 25 years in prison. He was charged with four counts: conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, conspiracy to murder U.S. officials, conspiracy to sell anti-aircraft missiles and conspiracy to supply weapons to terrorist groups. After sentencing, he was transferred to a general regime prison in Brooklyn. The area where Bout's cell is located designed for people with suicidal tendencies and unstable psyche.

The Russian Foreign Ministry harshly criticized the verdict, calling the case against the Russian businessman biased, unfounded and political. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has promised to take all necessary steps to return Victor to Russia. Bout's wife welcomed this support from the diplomats, but mentioned one disturbing and inexplicable fact: it would have been much easier for Russia to return Viktor Bout from Thailand than from the U.S., but no attempts have been made. In May of 2012, Bout was sent to a maximum security prison in Colorado. This prison is for very dangerous criminals who may attempt to escape, also known as "concrete coffin". Bout's lawyer, diplomats and consular officials were able to convince the judge to postpone the escorting. During the trial, rallies in support of Viktor Bout were ongoing.

On October 11, 2011 the organization "Union of Citizens of Russia" held a picket at the walls of the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg, demanding the return of Viktor Bout home .On April 24, 2012 flags and banners demanding the return of the citizen of Russia home have been re-deployed. A few days ago reports have emerged that the U.S. Attorney General is considering a transfer of Victor Bout to Russia.
However, a new opinion has emerged: Kathi Lynn Austin, director of the international NGO Conflict Awareness Project in her report expressed concern that the extradition of the Russian businessman may create a greater threat to global security and the U.S. interests. At the UN conference she said that allowing Bout to be transferred to the Russian Federation would create a threat to the global safety and the U.S. interests.

Ministry of Justice of Russia has not yet prepared all documents necessary for the extradition of Viktor Bout, head of the ministry Alexander Konovalov reported. The negotiations through diplomatic channels continue. It should be understood that the United States acted very competently. Victor Bout is in prison, and the U.S. has a "commodity" that Russia somehow must "buy." Previously, some experts have argued that Russia is allegedly afraid that Bout could tell about his relationships with senior Russian officials and tell about secret dealings of Moscow around the world.

Victor Bout has previously said that the U.S. government forced him to break silence. "I was offered a lighter sentence and an opportunity to bring the family to the U.S. if I told them about my connections in Russia. But I said I did not know anything that interested them", said Victor Bout.

Russia should have challenged the Thai authorities for the illegal extradition of its citizen long time ago. The tension between Russia and Thailand may have caused the U.S. to think about the appropriateness of this operation. Russia has not done this, which could be construed as, if not an approval, then consent to the way one of its nationals was treated. It was viewed as a confirmation. Lavrov said that Russia was not going to take revenge on the U.S. for Bout. What does the revenge have to do with it? We are talking about the rule of law that was completely broken at all stages of this story. First Bout was provoked, and then illegally extradited, given groundless accusations and a politically motivated verdict. The accusation of intending to kill U.S. citizens alone is very significant.

No one in the United States thinks that the extradition of Bout is extremely important for the Americans, as lawless state in relation to residents of other countries over time results in transgression against its own citizens. Now there is a threat that the authorities who trampled down justice will also do it to the Americans.

Ensuring compliance with the law in relation to Victor Bout, the citizens of the United States would enforce the law in relation to themselves. The authorities of Russia and the United States would have to work together. We can say that the extradition of Viktor Bout is not a threat, and both Russia and the United States are interested in it. It would be nice to believe that the law and common sense will prevail.

Sergei Vasilenkov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov