Alleged arms dealer's wife appeals to Thai Prime Minister
The wife of suspected arms trader Viktor Bout, in Thai custody awaiting extradition to the United States on charges of selling weapons to terrorists, sent an open letter to the Thai prime minister on Monday saying her husband is innocent, reported RIA Novosti.
"My husband has become a victim of an information war waged with the aim of discrediting Russia," Alla Bout wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, dated September 14.
"The U.S. allegations and charges are political in nature and constitute political persecution," she said in her letter.
No evidence of Viktor Bout's alleged crimes has been presented either to the Russian judicial authorities or to the Thai Court in the ten years of :intensive information warfare, she said.
"Not a single Court of Law in the world has so far investigated any of the allegations of illegal weapons sales against my husband. In spite of that, the U.S. has been stating constantly for the past ten years that my husband is 'the biggest illicit weapons dealer in the world'," she said.
Alla Bout said she had attached two documents compiled by her husband's lawyers to substantiate her plea, adding that copies of the open letter and all the documents had also been sent to all Thai media outlets as well as to the bureaus of leading international news agencies in Thailand.
The Thai Prosecutor General's Office on August 31 received a formal request from the United States to drop a second set of charges against Bout.
The Prosecutor General's Office has yet to consider the U.S. request.
Bout, 44, was arrested in March 2008 at the request of the United States. His extradition to the United States was ordered by the Thai appeals court on August 20. Bout claims he has never been involved in the arms trade and that there was no evidence of his involvement in the business.
On February 17, the United States brought new charges against Bout, accusing him of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), a U.S. federal law prohibiting the export of goods, technologies or services that pose an "unusual and extraordinary threat... to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States."
The charges were passed over to the Thai criminal court two hours before the appeals court reached its verdict on the 2008 accusations. In accordance with Thai law, Bout cannot be extradited to the United States until the second charges are brought to court.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the Thai court's decision politically motivated, and suggested it was made to please Washington. He said Moscow would seek Bout's repatriation.