Russia accuses US of pressuring Bout during extradition

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The United States tried to pressure suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout into confessing to crimes he had not commited during his extradition from Thailand, a top Russian diplomat said Thursday.

Russia's consul general in New York, Andrei Yushmanov, made the comments after making the first visit by a Russian diplomat to Bout in New York, where he is now in detention.

"According to Viktor Bout, some pressure was put on him during his transfer," Yushmanov told the RIA Novosti news agency.

"He said that they tried to convince him to confess to things that he has not done, promising some general nice things in return. Viktor Bout rejected these attempts."

Yushmanov also said that the Thai authorities had taken away all Bout's personal possessions and he was experiencing some discomfort in the change from the hot Thai climate due to a lack of warm clothing.

His personal hygiene items had also been taken away, he added.

Bout pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in a New York federal court Wednesday, after having been extradited from Thailand against Moscow's wishes.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had demanded urgent consular access to Bout.

"If there is a delay in the consular access then this will be another violation of the norms of international rules which have already been broken more than once in this case," the Interfax news agency quoted him as telling reporters in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

© 2010 AFP

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