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Russia urges new US administration to take constructive approach on Bout case — diplomat

November 23, 2016, 14:38 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russia will continue providing consular and legal assistance to Victor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison term in the United States on arms smuggling charges
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MOSCOW, November 23. /TASS/. Moscow urges Washington to hand over Russian citizen Victor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison term in the United States on arms smuggling charges, and expects that the new US administration will take a constructive approach on the case, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights said.

"We demand that Washington bring Victor Bout, who was illegally seized by the US special services abroad, back to Russia," Konstantin Dolgov said in a statement published on the Foreign Ministry’s website. "We expect a constructive approach on this case on the part of the new US administration."

"We have repeatedly underlined the explicitly inspired character of Bout’s persecution and the uncovered political bias of the sentence," Dolgov said.

This is confirmed by the extensive evidence collected by his lawyers and also the pronouncements of former US federal judge Shira Sheindlin who had passed a ruling on Bout, he said. In an interview with The New York Times, Sheindlin said that the 25-year sentence she had imposed in 2012 on Bout was "excessive and inappropriate". But she also said that because one count carried a mandatory 25-year minimum sentence, she had been unable to impose a lesser term.

"This proves the remaining bias of the US justice and again spotlights the fact of rude violation of Bout’s rights and the persistent unwillingness of the US authorities to rectify this blatant situation," the diplomat stressed.

Russia will continue providing consular and legal assistance to Bout who has fallen victim to arbitrary treatment, he said.

Bout was detained in 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand, on the basis of a warrant issued by a local court at the request of the US. He was charged with illegal shipment of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a rebel group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the US. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and received a $15 million fine.

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