Accused arms dealer claims U.S. tried to force a confession (CNN):
Suspected international arms dealer Viktor Bout is claiming that he was pressured by U.S. authorities to confess on his extradition flight from Thailand to the United States, a deputy spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry said Thursday.
Spokesman Alexei Sazonov told reporters at a news briefing in Moscow that Russian officials will closely monitor the charge and “respond accordingly.”
Deputy Russian Consul General Andrei Yushmanov told state media that Bout told him that he was subjected to “professional psychological pressure” during his extradition flight, Russia’s official news agency ITAR-TASS reported Thursday.
Bout is now in U.S. custody awaiting trial on charges that he agreed to sell millions of dollars of weapons to a Colombian narco-terrorist organization. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a U.S. courtroom in New York to four counts of terror-related crimes.
Since his extradition, Russia has urged U.S. authorities for a fair hearing in the case.
“Our diplomats have been instructed to carry out all necessary measures to protect Viktor Bout’s interests,” Sazonov said.
“Viktor Bout needs support,” he said, adding that Russia will provide him with a lawyer if necessary.
The alleged arms dealer faces charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to kill U.S. officers or employees, conspiracy to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile, and conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. In this case, that would be the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC.
Bout appeared before U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin wearing a brown t-shirt, black track pants and black sneakers. He was given headphones to hear the court proceedings translated into Russian, but Bout — who speaks six languages — spoke English to the judge and his attorney.
Bout told Moscow ‘tried to assassinate him’ – spouse (RIA Novosti):
U.S. officials told suspected Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout that Moscow had sent assassins to Thailand and the United States to kill him, his wife said on Thursday.
“DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] agents told him Russia had sent killers to Thailand and the United States to eliminate him and so he must not expect Russian help but should cooperate with the investigation and confess to crimes he did not commit,” Alla Bout said.
She said she had received the information from the Russian diplomatic officials who visited Viktor Bout at the correctional facility in New York City where he is awaiting trial.
Bout, 43, was extradited to the United States on Tuesday after spending more than two and half years in Thai prisons. He was officially charged in a New York City court on Wednesday. His charges include conspiring to supply arms to terrorist groups and kill U.S. nationals.
The next hearing in the case of the former Russian officer, dubbed the Merchant of Death, will be held on January 10 next year. Bout could face a 25 year sentence if convicted on all four charges against him.
Russia’s consul in the United States said earlier on Thursday that U.S. officials tried to force Bout to admit his guilt during the extradition flight from Thailand to the United States.