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Moscow to press for return home of businessman arrested in US

November 10, 2011, 23:50 UTC+3
Moscow has always questioned the legality of Bout’s extradition to the U.S.
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MOSCOW, November 10 (Itar-Tass) – Russia will continue pressing with all the possible political, diplomatic and legal instruments for a return home of businessman Viktor Bout, whom a jury panel in the U.S. passed a guilty verdict on for an alleged conspiracy against American citizens and interests, a source at the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

He said it after a meeting that the Foreign Ministry’s special envoy for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, Konstantin Dolgov, had with the top diplomats of the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

“Russia will continue pressing for Bout’s return with all the political, diplomatic and legal instruments available to it, but this problem will remain an important aspect of Russian-U.S. dialogue until it is resolved positively in compliance with the norms of international law and legislation in the sphere of human rights,” the source said.

“The Russian side confirmed its principled stance on the illegitimacy of the Russian citizen’s extradition from to the U.S. from Thailand and the continuing unprecedented pressure on him, which calls into question the absence of bias in the entire prosecution of his case,” he said.

“Special attention was called to the reports on a further deterioration of the conditions, in which Bout is kept in jail after the pronouncement of a guilty verdict by the jurors,” the source said.

Viktor Bout, a former officer of the Soviet Army and a businessman who has specialized in the past fifteen or so years in the air haulage of cargoes in Africa, has been found guilty of a conspiracy for the purpose of killing U.S. citizens, a conspiracy for the purpose of killing a U.S. government employee, a conspiracy for purchasing and selling air defense missiles, and a conspiracy for supplying weaponry to international terrorist groupings.

He was arrested in Thailand in 2008 after an alleged attempt to sell a consignment of weaponry to undercover agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who passed themselves off as representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which the U.S. lists among terrorist organizations.

Moscow has always questioned the legality of Bout’s extradition to the U.S.

The judge is expected to read out a sentence, which may maroon Bout in jail for life, February 8, 2012.

According to international media reports, Bout’s attorney Albert Dayan said in connection with the trial that the U.S. authorities “framed a legitimate businessman by building their case on recorded conversations that were open to interpretation and never resulted in the exchange of any arms or money.”

He was also quoted as saying that the US justice officials "don't have anything /to prove Bout’s guilt/." "All they have is speculation, innuendo and conjecture."

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