Russian Foreign Ministry learned with much satisfaction the reports on Thai Criminal Court’s decision to free the Russian citizen Viktor Bout, who was suspected of planning a sale of weaponry to the Revolutionary Armed Force in Colombia (FARC), the ministry’ s deputy official spokesman, Igor Lyakin-Frolov said Tuesday.JOTMAN.COM Russian contributor Sanjuro, who translated a rare interview with Victor Bout from his prison cell in Thailand, summarizes an article from the Russian media pertaining to Bout's release:
Earlier in the day, the Thai Criminal Court issued a non-guilty verdict to Viktor Bout, thus denying a request from the U.S. to extradite him.
The court ruled the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was a political organization and not a terrorist one, as the U.S. had claimed.
But according to an article on the acquittal by Douglas Farah in Foreign Policy, "His extradition has become a top priority for an Obama administration seeking to prevent him from being released and further fanning conflicts around the world, particularly in his old stomping grounds of Afghanistan."A more detailed article in the Kommersant said that Thai court considered the case "politically motivated", and that the prosecution failed to provide trustworthy evidence of Bout's dealings, and of the fact that FARC, indeed, is a terrorist organization. It also briefly quoted an unnamed Russian diplomat in Thailand saying that Thailand simply didn't want to taint relationship with Russia, as in case with Iran (there was a similar case with an Iranian military officer caught in Thailand). The reason was described as Russia and Iran are seen by Thailand as "unpredictable" and hence it is better to please them, while the US has been a reliable partner and shall not be too angry with Bout's acquittal, especially as Obama administration has no vested interest in it.
It should be noted that the Americans were only too happy to work with Bout when he served their purposes: in the first years of the Iraq war Bout flew "hundreds of missions for the U.S. military and civilian contractors, raking in millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars." Back then, it seems that Bout was too useful to the United States to get arrested.
While the Bush Administration was spending hundreds of thousands of US taxpayer dollars to hunt down Victor Bout, it was funneling hundreds of millions to military contractor Blackwater USA and its CEO Erik Prince. According to Wikipedia:
On August 3, 2009, two anonymous former Blackwater employees swore under oath that Prince may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. In addition, they said that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."If such allegations are found to be true, perhaps it would be unfair to Victor Bout to compare him to Erik Prince. An amoral arms merchant is not quite in the same league as a hate-inspired holy warrior.
American citizens might have been far better served had their government focused on keeping its own house in order rather than chasing one semi-retired Russian arms dealer halfway around the world.