Thailand urges Russia and US to sort out Bout’s case
On Saturday, Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva announced that he had instructed the country’s Foreign Ministry to maintain contacts with both Russia and the United States regarding the Viktor Bout case, Itar-Tass news agency reported.“Thailand is a third party in the case of Viktor Bout,” he said. “The US and Russia should resolve this issue.”Earlier, Russian businessman Victor Bout, wanted by the US for alleged arms smuggling, denied ever having been engaged in arms dealing and claims the case against him has been fabricated by the American special services.“The USA is building me an image of an undercover billionaire and arms dealer. I have never sold arms,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Bout as saying at a press conference in Bangkok on Friday. The Russian businessman remains in a Thai prison for two-and-a-half years and is now awaiting a court decision on his extradition to the United States.The businessman also denied having any classified information regarding the Russian state and its leaders, saying he had worked neither with Russian companies nor state agencies.“I don’t know any secrets of the Russian state or its leaders… I have never even worked with Russian companies and state agencies.”Bout said the international media was portraying him as the world’s leading arms smuggler, “without stopping to think that there exists in the world no proof of their statements.”“All of these statements are based on a book by two impartial journalists who constantly quote some sources in the Secret Service of the United States that must stay unnamed because of the classified nature of their work,” Bout added.“The American case that accuses me of plotting to kill American citizens and support terrorism has been fully framed up by the American special services, based on the provocation that they staged for me in Bangkok,” he said.Concerning the reaction getting from the Capitol Hill and the talks “behind closed doors”, Evgeny Belenky, the head of the Bangkok bureau of the RIA Novosti news agency, thinks that for the last couple of years there was a persistent pressure from the US on Thailand to extradite Bout.“I remember when US General prosecutor once told Thai judges “deliver me Viktor Bout for my birthday, my birthday present would be the extradition of Viktor Bout,” Belenky told RT.
Some say the US pursuit of Bout is all about money. According to the media director of Trine Day books, Kent Goodman, Bout is being targeted for crossing the CIA in its own business deals in Africa.“All the information they had, to begin with, the Thai court kicked out because they said it was obviously politically motivated and that was completely true,” he said. “He has always said that he was a businessman who was heading an air cargo business in Africa and that is what we think, too. The problem was that in the 90s when everybody else left Africa, he stayed and developed his cargo business, which took over 90 per cent of the business.” “The problem was that the CIA and other business concerns wanted those routes for themselves. So they cooked up this whole thing to get rid of Bout, get him out of the picture,” he added.
Earlier this week, the Thailand Court of Appeals ruled that Viktor Bout should be extradited to the United States