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Thailand to extradite arms dealer to US

[ 2010-11-17 11:22]     字号 [] [] []  
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The Thai government agreed on Tuesday to extradite accused Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States to face terrorism charges, rejecting heavy pressure from Moscow for him to be freed.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters after a cabinet meeting that Bout would be sent as soon as the US is ready to receive him, and even suggested that the suspect might already be on his way. Abhisit said his cabinet sided with an earlier appeals court decision that Bout could be extradited.

Bout, a 43-year-old former Soviet air force officer who is reputed to have been one of the world's most prolific arms dealers, was arrested at a Bangkok luxury hotel in March 2008 as part of a sting operation led by US agents.

Bout has allegedly supplied weapons that fueled civil wars in South America, the Middle East and Africa, with clients including Liberia's Charles Taylor and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and both sides in Angola's civil war.

Bout claims he ran a legitimate business and never sold weapons. Tuesday's action had been preceded by a lengthy legal and diplomatic battle.

Russia had made strong public statements against Bout's extradition, and privately, both Moscow and Washington were reported to be exerting heavy pressure on Abhisit's government. US lawmakers also became involved, sending a letter to the Thai government urging extradition.

A Thai court in August of 2009 originally rejected Washington's request for Bout's extradition on terrorism-related charges. After that ruling was reversed by an appeals court in August this year, the US moved to get him out quickly, sending a special plane to stand by.

However, just ahead of the appeals court ruling, the United States forwarded new money-laundering and wire fraud charges to Thailand in an attempt to keep Bout detained if the court ordered his release. But the move backfired by requiring a hearing on the new charges. Those were dismissed in early October. Russia says Bout is an innocent businessman and wants him in Moscow.


1. What country is Viktor Bout from?

2. How old is he?

3. When did Thailand originally reject his extradition to the US?


1. Russia.

2. 43.

3. August 2009.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Thailand to extradite arms dealer to US

About the broadcaster:

Thailand to extradite arms dealer to US

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.