More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers have sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraging the extradition of Viktor Bout from Thailand, where he was arrested last year in a DEA-orchestrated sting, to America, where he could face trial on conspiracy charges. In the sting, DEA agents posed as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and sought to buy millions of dollars in weapons from Bout, the so-called “Merchant of Death” arms trader who allegedly provided weapons to Al Qaeda.
“The Congress is making it abundantly clear, the ‘Merchant of Death’ must face justice,” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., who is leading the effort to have Bout brought to the U.S.
Meanwhile, the Russian media reports that the Russian ministry isn’t too pleased about this, leading one to ponder the moral calculus that allows for defending the rights of a home grown thug like Bout, who allegedly armed the Taliban in Afghanistan, while offering America mixed messages about helping to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.
From RIA Novosti:
“The American lawmakers describe Viktor Bout as an international armsdealer and a party to a conspiracy to supply a terrorist organizationwith weaponry, although no verdict has been passed in the Bout case sofar,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.
“Moreover, Thailand has terminated a criminal case against Bout, whilehe has not been proven guilty on charges brought against him in theUnited States. In this context, the U.S. lawmakers’ public appealcannot be regarded only as an attempt to put pressure on the executiveand judiciary authorities of Thailand”.
“These actions on the part of parliamentarians in a nation thatpurports to be an example of rule of law and observance of human rightslooks embarrassing, to say the least.”