Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

Congress Moves to Keep the Pressure on for Bout's Extradition
A large, bipartisan group of Congressmen, led by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) is seeking to insure the the extradition of Viktor "Merchant of Death" Bout from Thailand remains a high priority for the incoming administration.

In a letter to new AG Holder and Secretary of State Clinton signed by 27 House members, the group asked that Bout's extradition "remain a top priority for your departments and the United States government."

Bout was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 in an elaborate sting operation set up by the DEA. Bout left his safe haven in Moscow to sell large quantities of sophisticated weapons to a group he thought represented the FARC of Colombia, a designated terrorist organization and one of the largest drug trafficking entities in the world. The undercover agents made it clear they wanted weapons that could be used to target U.S. personnel and radar installations, something Bout eagerly agreed to.

Bout, who armed the FARC before, as well as the Taliban, Libya and a host of unsavory warlords and thugs in Africa, has been held in Thailand for almost a year as his extradition case wends its way through Thai courts. A preliminary hearing is expected in early March. He is the prototype of the facilitator that crosses among the worlds of terrorists, organized criminals and criminal states, procuring whatever they need for a price.

The Russian government, through public and private means, have been working overtime to insure its favorite weapons dealer-who often in recent years operated under Russian government protection-is not extradited, but gets a free pass back to Moscow. A lot of Russian money of unknown origin has been sprinkled through the Thai judicial system-to the tune of several million dollars-in an effort to persuade the Thai authorities to let the case go away.

As the Congressional letter noted, "reports suggesting the Russian government is attempting to negatively influence this process only heighten our concern. Indeed, the Russian Duma recently passed a resolution calling for Bout to be returned to Russia."

As Mr. Bout's actions have threatened the security of many countries and regions and destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent individuals, the United States Congress is following his case closely, the letter noted.

Let's hope the Thais, mired in their own political chaos, do the right thing.
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