MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) – The United States refused to extradite convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout to Russia over a “formality” coupled with a set of illegitimate pretexts, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
The US Department of Justice rejected earlier in November an extradition request for Bout, a Russian businessman convicted of arms smuggling, citing the gravity of his alleged crime, his criminal record, objections from the US law enforcements and a pending appeal.
The appeal is the only legitimate reason for the refusal, in line with the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, but it is a formality, the ministry said in a statement.
All other reasons have nothing to do with the convention, the ministry said. It added that it was not aware of Bout having any criminal record prior to his conviction in the United States earlier this year.
Bout, detained in a joint operation by US and Thai authorities in Bangkok in 2008, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the United States in April. He has denied wrongdoing and called the trial politically motivated, a claim echoed by Russian officials.