The Russian government criticized the United States for it so-called unjustified decision to sentence alleged international arms dealer, Viktor Bout, to 25 years in prison. The Kremlin has vowed to bring the Russian national, known in the United States as the Merchant of Death, back to his home country.
The verdict of the U.S. court sentencing Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison is unjustified and agenda-driven, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on its English-language Twitter account. The MFA will do all it can to arrange Viktor Bout's return to his home country. This issue will remain a priority on the Russia - U.S. agenda.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added that Russia will support Bout and his efforts to appeal his jail sentence. Lavrov said that the Bout's conviction in November was possibly due to pressure from the United States government, reported ABC. The MFA also accused the media of hyping up the allegations against Bout.
The #US media harassment campaign against Viktor #Bout, in an attempt to affect the judicial process, is unacceptable, said the MFA on their Twitter.
The Russian government sent a letter to the United States, protesting his prosecution and the whole court procedure.
We have called the prosecution of Viktor Bout 'outrageous governmental conduct.' That does not go nearly far enough -- it's a disgrace, the letter said, according to Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti, reported ABC.
However, on the day of his sentencing, prosecutors responded, saying they he deserved his prison time.
Viktor Bout has been international arms trafficking enemy number one for many years, arming some of the most violent conflicts around the globe, said United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara in a statement released yesterday. He was finally brought to justice in an American court for agreeing to provide a staggering number of military grade weapons to an avowed terrorist organization committed to killing Americans. Today's sentence is a fitting coda for this career arms trafficker of the most dangerous order.
In a sting operation that took place between November 2007 and March 2008, Bout allegedly sold millions of dollars' worth of weapons, including 800 surface-to-air-missles, 30,000 AK-47 firearms, 10 million rounds of ammunition, five tons of C-4 plastic explosives, ultralight airplanes outfitted with grenade launchers, and unmanned aerial vehicles, to confidential sources working for the DEA. Authorities allege that Bout believed he was selling weapons to Colombia's Marxist rebel group the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC.
The criminal informant informed Bout that he wanted to use the weapons against American personal. This information did not faze the so-called Merchant of Death. He allegedly told the criminal informant that we have the same enemy.
Bout is also believed to have weapons to terror groups such as al Qaeda and that Taliban and is accused of helping to fuel conflicts in Africa, South America and Asia with his arms deals, reported ABC.
In a 2000 reported for the United Nations, Bout, a former air force pilot, was said to be suspected of having ties to the Russian mafia. He is also believed to have strong ties to top Russian government officials, who protected him before his capture, reported ABC.
However, Bout's lawyers have asked Judge Shira Schendlin, the presiding judge in the case, to throw out the conviction. They claim that he is a political prisoner who was caught up in a raid by the United States government sting operation, reported the Associated Press. Defense attorneys also said that the officials had coaxed the Russian national from his home in Thailand when he was arrested in March 2008.
The relentless pursuit of Viktor Bout and the abominable design to create a criminal case against him that brings him before this court for sentencing is the product of malice and object of private politics stemming from the then White House, defense attorney Albert Dayan wrote in a letter to Scheindlin, reported the Associated Press.