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WASHINGTON, August 17 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s businessman Viktor Bout, who is serving his term in the United States, is ready to give an interview to Itar-Tass, but he is not sure the American authorities would let him do so.
“I would be happy to answer your questions if my answers pass “the CIA censorship”, the prisoner of the Marion penitentiary /Illinois/ wrote in a note, which Itar-Tass correspondent received via Russian diplomats in Washington.
The note was dated July 24. At that time the latest news on the Bout case was that during the visit of lawyer Albert Dayan they decided to postpone appealing due to the impossibility to prepare effectively for it. Later, Dayan filed a solicitation, and the court in New York even managed to satisfy it. The appeal is due before end of January, 2013.
The difficulties with preparations for a new stage of the process are caused by the fact that the Russian citizen stays in Marion’s special block, which he called a “block of controlled contacts.” In fact, it is a prison with great limitation of contacts between prisoners and the outer world.
Bout explained he is allowed to call his family only twice a week “by appointment an in a strictly fixed time.” He does not have a right to call lawyers, and the latter may only come themselves. However, there is a special time schedule for the visits, and secondly, it is not a quick ride to Marion – this little town is about 950 miles /over 1,500 kilometres/ from New York.
Viktor Bout said that while in the prison of New York, he was allowed to call lawyers at least once a week. Marion deprived him of this privilege and even confiscated his CDs and the “hard disc, which prosecutors /the US’/ have given for preparations for the court hearing.” Bout said his defence “would argue in court these conditions.”
By the way, Russian diplomats claim they have reasons to suppose that in the case with Bout the Americans violate international legal regulations on immunity of consular correspondence.
The story of a Russian citizen who is now in prison in the US is well-known. Bout was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 at a U.S. request and extradited to the U.S. in November 2010. Four charges were brought against him: criminal conspiracy to kill US nationals, conspiracy to kill officials in public service, criminal conspiracy to purchase and sell antiaircraft missiles and criminal conspiracy to supply weapons to terrorist groups. The Russian citizen pleaded not guilty on all the points. In April of the current year, the US court found him guilty of a conspiracy to smuggle weapons to the group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and sentenced him to 25 years in prison. He was extradited from Thailand, where in 2008 he was arrested by American special agents. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it would press for Bout's return to Russia. Moscow believes that the evidence collected against Bout “is too thin to make far-reaching accusations”. The Foreign Ministry thinks that a situation where Russian citizens fall victim to U.S. justice on the basis of broad interpretation of law is unacceptable.
After Bout was taken to Marion, Itar-Tass filed with the prison’s administration a request for an interview. The request was rejected, but the Russian citizen received a right for written communication with Russian reporters. The authorities provided for that a closed-access and strictly controlled system of electronic mail. The message, posted on July 31, which contained questions for the interview, still remains unanswered.