Russia slams Bout extradition, vows to bring him home

20th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Friday angrily condemned a decision by a Thai court to extradite alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to the United States, vowing to do everything so he could return to his homeland.

"We regret what is in my opinion an unjust decision, a political decision that the appeals court in Thailand has taken," Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on a visit to Armenia.

In a thinly veiled reference to the United States, he added: "This decision, according to the information that we have, was taken under very strong pressure from the outside. This is sad."

"I assure you that we will continue to do everything necessary to obtain his return to the motherland."

Lavrov described Bout as a "Russian citizen" and said that Russian officials had over the last months provided him with assistance and had been in contact with his lawyers and family.

A Thai appeals court on Friday granted a request by the United States to extradite Bout, dubbed the "Merchant of Death", on terrorism charges.

Russia has consistently opposed Bout's extradition to the United States and also hit out at the media's presentation of him, emphasising that he is yet to be convicted.

The foreign ministry said last year that the media attacks on Bout were aimed at moving the case into the political realm with the aim of harming improving US-Russian relations.

© 2010 AFP

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