'Merchant of Death' Extradited to US

Russia calls Viktor Bout's extradition 'illegal'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2010 11:01 AM CST
'Merchant of Death' Extradited to US
Thai police commando stand guard for security in front of a private jet before alleged Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout boards at Don muang airport in Bangkok on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010.   (AP Photo)

"Merchant of Death" Viktor Bout was extradited to the US today, and his native Russia is none too pleased about that fact. The alleged arms trafficker, accused of selling weapons to groups in Africa, Afghanistan, and South America, was indicted in 2008 of selling arms to a terrorist group and conspiring to kill American citizens, the New York Times reports.

Since being captured that year in a sting in Thailand, he has been the subject of a diplomatic struggle between the US and Russia; Russia's Foreign Ministry called his extradition "illegal" and the "consequence of unprecedented political pressure exerted by the US on the government and judicial authorities of Thailand." The co-author of a book about the Merchant of Death notes that Bout "knows a lot about Russian intelligence as it has been restructured" in recent years. He is expected to be arraigned in New York tomorrow. (More Viktor Bout stories.)

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