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U.S. "pleased" with Thai ruling to extradite alleged Russian arms dealer

RIA Novosti

02:49 21/08/2010

WASHINGTON, August 21 (RIA Novosti) - The White House welcomes the decision of a Thai appeal court to extradite Russian national Viktor Bout, wanted in the United States on weapons smuggling and other charges.

On Friday, the Thai Appeals Court ruled to extradite alleged arms trafficker Bout to the United States. He is to be handed over to the U.S. side within three months.

"We appreciate very much that decision. Viktor Bout is somebody who for two decades was responsible for arms trafficking and supporting terrorist organizations on multiple continents - South America, in Africa and in Asia," John Brennan, President Barack Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, told a media briefing.

"We have sought his extradition so he could be tried in New York. We are very pleased with the cooperation of Thai authorities. And we are looking forward to his expeditious return here," he added.

Former Russian army officer Viktor Bout, 44, was arrested in March 2008 under a request from the United States, which accuses him of illegally trading arms. He has repeatedly denied the accusations.

In August 2009, the Bangkok Criminal Court ruled in Bout's favor, denying the U.S. extradition request due to a lack of evidence and because it believed the case to be politically motivated.

However, the United States appealed the ruling and filed new charges against him. The Court of Appeal has the final say on extradition cases in Thailand so there is no avenue to appeal the ruling.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Russia will seek the repatriation of Bout.

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