Merchant of Death
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Press Releases

Congressional Pressure to Pursue Bout's Extradition
A bipartisan group of 35 legislators, led by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Ca), have written a strong letter to the prime minister of Thailand requesting that Viktor Bout be extradited quickly to the United States to stand trial.

(For more on Bout and his arrest, see: this post and many other I and my colleagues at the Counterterrorism Blog have written.

The Royce letter said in part that:

Viktor Bout is an international terrorist who made a global empire out of arming the world's worst. It is past time he faced justice. Congress is grateful for the close cooperation between U.S. authorities and the Royal Thai Police in his capture. We now look forward to his timely extradition to the United States to face terrorism charges.".

The first significant hearing on Bout's extradition is scheduled for July 28. This hearing, originally scheduled for June, was delayed due to illness of one of Bout's lawyers.

The July 28 hearing is the first of several to determine whether the Thai justice system will allow Bout to be extradited to stand trial on charges of seeking to aid a designated terrorist organization.

The letter notes the "negative influence" Russia is exercising to keep Bout from being extradited to the United States, which seems to be a mild understatement. Senior Russian officials are actively pursuing an "economic" solution to Bout's Thai case, offering everything from weapons deals to oil and gas deals in exchange for his freedom. For more details, see:

Royce et al rightly note that Bout has had strong terrorist connections, from the FARC in Colombia to the Taliban in Afghanistan. In the sting operation where he was arrested, he repeatedly stated his desire to kill Americans and work with anyone who shared that goal with him.

President Bush will be in Thailand in early August, and one hopes that the Thais will be able to deliver good news. It is heartening to see that some in Congress, despite the electoral silly season, take their oversight responsibilities seriously and are determined to hold both the Thais and the administration accountable in this case.
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