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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Viktor Bout Tries to tell Kremlin he will keep Quiet

Viktor continues his dance...

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By Andrew Osborn, Moscow 9:00PM GMT 09 Jan 2011

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, international lawyer Robert Amsterdam said that Mr Bout, who was extradited to America from Thailand in November, possessed a treasure trove of compromising information.

"It is limitless," said Mr Amsterdam. "He is connected to Russia's shadow state and the most powerful elements of the power elite. He has tremendous information on how that shadow state works and on its dealings with Venezuela, Iran and across Asia.

"It would be an intelligence coup to debrief this man if he will allow himself to be debriefed."

In a recent interview with Russia's RIA Novosti news agency from his New York prison cell, Mr Bout disclosed how US authorities had tried to get him to break his silence.

"I was offered a milder sentence, a lower prison term and the possibility to bring my family to the US if I tell them everything I know about my ties in Russia and other countries," he said.

"But I replied that I had nothing to tell them and that I don't know anything about the subjects they are interested in."

Mr Bout, who is often referred to as the 'Lord of War' because of a 2005 Hollywood film based on his life of the same name, was arrested in 2008 in Thailand after a sting operation masterminded by the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

Federal agents said they caught him offering to supply weapons to people he believed were Columbian FARC rebels.

The 43-year-old former Soviet army translator founded a vast air transport empire after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union that allegedly supplied weapons to fuel a string of wars in Africa and the Middle East.

Washington's battle to extradite him faced serious opposition from Moscow, which reacted with fury when it learnt he had been secretly flown to America to face trial.

The Kremlin and his family continue to insist he is an ordinary businessman.

Mr Bout, who has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, is due to appear in a New York court on January 21 for an initial hearing. If found guilty, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a minimum of 25 years.

The Rest @ The Telegrapah (UK)

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