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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Will Putin Succeed in Keeping Viktor Bout Out of US Hands?

It is interesting to note that Russia's deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, one of the closest allies of Mr Putin, the Prime Minister, visited Venezuela and Cuba this week. Sechin is widely reported to be the main backer of Viktor Bout, the notorious weapons trafficker in prison in Thailand, awaiting an extradition hearing next week to determine if he will be handed over to the United States to stand trial.

(In an ominous sign that Bout's extradition will not be approved, the Thai appellate court, for the first time this week, rejected a U.S. extradition request. This one was for Jamshid Ghassemi, an Iranian indicted in the United States for acquiring dual-use equipment and accelerometers for Iran's nuclear program. The court ruling gave no reasons for its decision, which is unappealable, and foul play is suspected.

There are several parallels to the Bout case, where the Russians have been offering large financial inducements, oil deals and preferential weapons deals in exchange for Bout's freedom. Another terrorist supplier under Russian protection.)

The Rest @ The Counter Terroism Blog

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