Bout case driven by politics
In a statement read out in Bangkok on Friday by the wife of Viktor Bout, the detained Russian businessmen categorically rejects American accusations of arms smuggling and backing terrorism and allegations that he has connections to the Russian government and holds state secrets.
He says he earned his fortune in the 1990s in the legitimate air cargo business. He also regrets what he describes as a sensationalist and irresponsible coverage of his case in the Western media.
Mr. Bout has been in Thai custody since 2008, when he was detained in Bangkok on an international arrest warrant from the United States. In 2009, a Thai criminal court declined an American extradition request for Mr. Bout. Accusations, however, continued to mount, and a few days ago, a Bangkok High Court ruled in favour of the requested extradition.
Many recall a development on April 15th, when the Russian businessman had a prison visit from the Thai Parliament. Reports say Mr. Bout resolutely turned down a request by the visiting lawmaker to implicate the former Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra in illegal arms trade. This makes the latest extradition moves look like a Thai political vendetta against the stubborn Russian inmate.
The Russian international law expert Dr. Naum Sonkin also suspects interest in the United States at play.
The whole story is much more than just Thai politics. In the grand scheme of things, there is a big power behind the designs to have Mr. Bout convicted on arms smuggling charges, no matter true or false, Sonkin said.
Motive One is an undying desire by Washington hawks to wreck the resetting of relations between this country and the US. Motive Two is fear of revelations about Bout’s business with the American military.
According to Dr. Douglas Farah of the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Centre, Mr. Bout’s planes delivered massive cargoes to US troops at the beginning of the American campaign in Iraq.