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10 Apr, 2008 04:20

Russia promises ‘Merchant of Death’ help

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has thrown a lifeline to Viktor Bout, who the U.S. accuses of supplying arms to terrorists. The Ministry says it will ‘protect the rights’ of its citizen, who’s known as the ‘Merchant of Death’. Thailand has cleared Bout of wrong

Bout, dubbed by the media as the 'Merchant of Death', is wanted in America on suspicion of allegedly smuggling weapons to rebels in Colombia.

In his appeal Bout asked Russia to take measures to free him:

“I, Viktor Bout, appeal to the government of the Russian Federation as a citizen. I'm asking you to take measures to free me, because I have been jailed and held under guard under fabricated accusations. I didn’t commit any crimes in Thailand, where I spent only three hours and then was arrested. I have never been to the United States, I don't have any connection with them, and I have never been connected to any terrorist groups. I'm asking the government of the Russian Federation to take measures, and ask the government of Thailand, what grounds I am being held on and why I am being unlawfully held in this country on fabricated American accusations”.

“I hope that my request has been heard and thank all my compatriots, who are giving me support and help”.

Meanwhile, Russia Today managed to speak to Viktor Bout in Thailand. The latter stated that the conditions in which he is being kept are awful. The Russian citizen said there are twenty-four people staying in a 24 sq metre cell and they all have to sleep on the floor. According to Bout, he is not getting any press, in English neither even in Thai.

Bout's lawyer told RT the U.S. now has two months to apply for his extradition or Thailand will have to set his client free.

He was detained in Thailand in March on suspicion of helping terrorists. Bout said he came to the country on holiday and was set to be released on Wednesday as no official charges had been brought against him by Thai authorities. But Bout's freedom was shortlived, and the fate of the so-called 'Merchant of Death' hangs in the balance.