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Russian national Viktor Bout’s exchange for US citizen jailed in Russia imminent - lawyer

Steve Zissou said that folks are starting to realize in the US that Viktor Bout will be released soon

WASHINGTON, June 11. /TASS/. Viktor Bout, a Russian national who has been doing time in a US correctional facility, will certainly be exchanged for a US citizen jailed in Russia, Bout’s lawyer Steve Zissou told TASS.

"I do think that finally folks are starting to realize in the US that Viktor Bout, whether it's true what is said about him or not, that he'll be released soon. And let's try to exchange him for some American that is in custody in Russia. And so, recently, we're becoming much more hopeful that the folks on the US side are going to be realistic about this. We've been trying to keep Alla, his wife, on an up note by assuring her that I think it's imminent," Zissou pointed out.

When asked if he believed that the exchange was imminent, the lawyer said: "I think the exchange is imminent. Yes, I do."

According to Zissou, the family of Trevor Reed, a US national who has recently been exchanged for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, also calls for exchanging Bout. "When you have those kinds of folks who have the backing of the American media saying it's time for Viktor Bout to go home, no matter what, that communicates to me that the folks in Washington are starting to listen, and that it's a matter of time before he gets home," he said.

Zissou believes that the US government "is eager to make an exchange, but again, in the US there's a lot of politics involved." "The reality is, if anyone is a hostage in this, it's Viktor. Viktor was the one who was in his home country doing nothing" and "was specifically targeted by the US Drug Enforcement Authority (Administration) for a crime that didn't exist" at the time of his arrest, the lawyer stressed.

Viktor Bout was detained in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok in 2008 based on an arrest warrant issued by a local court based on a US request. He was charged with conspiracy to deliver weapons to a group regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined $15 mln.