US hails Thai extradition order for Russian

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The United States on Friday hailed Thailand's extradition order for an alleged Russian arms dealer dubbed the "Merchant of Death" and said his prosecution would be an "utmost priority."

"We are extremely pleased that the Appeals Court in Thailand has granted the extradition of Viktor Bout to the United States," said acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler.

"The prosecution of Viktor Bout is of utmost priority to the United States, but the criminal charges he faces are not solely an American concern," Grindler said.

He was speaking after an appeals court judge agreed to US requests for Bout's extradition, reversing a lower court decision and defying the anger of Russia.

A US undercover sting in 2008 led to the arrest of Bout, a polyglot former Soviet air force pilot who is accused of flying weapons around the world.

He faces life in prison in the United States if convicted of charges including conspiracy to kill US nationals and to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

© 2010 AFP

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