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Military

Bout denies knowledge of Russian state, military secrets

RIA Novosti

15:16 27/08/2010

BANGKOK, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian businessman Viktor Bout, awaiting extradition to the United States on arms trafficking charges, said on Friday he knows no Russian state or military secrets.

"I am not in possession of any Russian state military secrets... I have never worked either with Russian companies or state agencies," Bout said in a statement that his wife, Alla, read at a news conference in Bangkok.

However, Moscow's opposition to Bout's extradition has been linked to its concerns that he could reveal state or military secrets.

Bout, ordered by the Thai appeals court on August 20 to be extradited to the United States, said he had never been involved in the arms trade and that there was no evidence of his involvement in the arms business.

"The United States is building an image of me as an underground billionaire and arms merchant. I have never traded in arms," Bout said.

He said the extradition ruling was at odds with Thai laws, but did not elaborate.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the Thai court's decision politically motivated, suggesting it was made to appease Washington. He also said Moscow would seek Bout's repatriation.

A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday the U.S. State Department had sent a letter to the Thai Foreign Ministry withdrawing a new set of charges against Bout.

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

On February 17, the United States brought new charges against Bout, accusing him of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), the U.S. federal law that prohibits 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 set of charges is heard in court.



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