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Foreign Ministry: Russia to press ahead with demands on Bout’s return home from US jail

Russian citizen Viktor Bout was detained in 2008 in Bangkok and sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison in the US for alleged illegal arms supplies

MOSCOW, May 6. /TASS/. Moscow will continue persistently raising an issue before Washington that Russian citizen Viktor Bout serving a 25-year prison term in the United States should return home as quickly as possible, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

"We’ll be also providing full support to his lawyers for the purposes of a review of the unfair verdict, the need for which now cannot cause anyone’s doubts," the Russian diplomat said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also commented on the pronouncements of former US federal judge Shira Sheindlin who had passed a ruling on Bout. In an interview with The New York Times, Sheindlin said that the 25-year sentence she had imposed in 2012 on Bout was 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.

"These statements are quite indicative," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

"The judge who has recently resigned and is no longer bound by service restrictions called the verdict ‘excessive and inappropriate.’ This was said by the person who had had a possibility to work with all the materials of the case for a long period," Zakharova said.

"As she admitted, Bout was not a terrorist as the prosecutors insisted," the Russian diplomat said.

"Generally speaking, he was actually drawn in the provocative operation of the US secret services in Bangkok where our compatriot was arrested by US agents in 2008," she noted.

"All these statements that are made post factum are becoming a good tradition for the United States," Zakharova said.

"When the truth surfaces not at a time when it is of principled importance and when everyone is waiting for it, but at a time when the decisions have been made and the fates of people have been broken, then this surfacing truth, unfortunately, already cannot influence anything," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

"Apart from everything else, this confirms our assessments of the clearly politicized and fabricated nature of the accusations and the entire judicial process against the Russian citizen," Zakharova said.

Bout was detained in 2008 in the capital of Thailand on a warrant issued by a local court on a request from the United States. He was sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison in the United States for alleged illegal arms supplies.