The Bout Affair: America as Magistrate

The United States has again shown that it considers the “reset” of relations with Russia strictly a one-way street. And it is not willing to give up an inch of its own interests and ambitions of achieving global hegemony for the sake of the reset process, which has already moved into the realm of pure myth.

We learned today that Viktor Bout, a Russian citizen detained by the Thailand government two years ago and charged with illegally supplying arms to the FARC (a Colombian group Washington lists as a terrorist group), has been extradited to the United States on a charter flight from a military airport in Bangkok.

The decision to surrender our fellow countryman to the mercy of the American “justice” system (several US states still have the death penalty, and the medieval methods for beating testimony out of detainees in Guantánamo and other American “concentration-like” camps have been condemned even by the US satellites in Europe) looks even more questionable when we consider that Bangkok acted against two decisions by Thailand’s criminal court which acknowledged that Bout’s guilt is unproven. And it happened despite repeated petitions by Russian authorities on behalf of its citizen insisting on Viktor Bout’s return to his homeland so his alleged crimes can be investigated.

The reaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry to US insult to the reset process can be called adequate, although perhaps too diplomatically restrained. Spokesmen for Russia’s foreign-policy ministry stressed that they have no doubt that “the illegal extradition of Victor Bout is a result of unprecedented pressure from the United States on Thailand’s government and judicial system.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “All of this can be characterized as nothing other than interference in the administration of justice, and it calls into question the independence of Thailand’s judicial system and the decisions made by the Thai authorities.”

The Prime-Tass news agency reports that Russia’s head diplomat Sergei Lavrov called Thailand’s decision a “blatant miscarriage of justice.”

Comment by Andrei Klimov, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs, on the Thai government’s decision to extradite Viktor Bout to the United States:

I view this step by the Thai government as an action far outside the bounds of international law and the common understanding of justice. The same applies to the actions by the US authorities who started all this.

Now here’s what I don’t like about it as a Russian citizen. I don’t know whether Bout is guilty or not. But I do know that a Russian citizen went on holiday abroad as a tourist. He traveled to Thailand, where he was arrested based on a mandate that the United States issued for some reason. But as far as I know, there’s no proof that he committed any crimes in the United States. Then he was held in prison for quite a long time. Not because he broke any laws in the country where he was arrested, but because the Americans felt he had done something wrong somewhere. Then he was surrendered entirely to US custody. Not, mind you, to Russia, where he came from and where he’s a citizen. And they’re doing all that against his will.

Now he’ll probably be prosecuted in the United States for something he didn’t do on US territory. That’s a dangerous precedent. Let me explain. Any country on earth can use that as justification to seize a citizen of any another country, extradite him, try him and punish him as it sees fit. By the way, America has the death penalty, whereas Russia established a moratorium on it.

This is no different from what they set up in Guantánamo. After all, what is happening in Guantánamo? If the Americans think somebody is a terrorist, they capture him, hold him without a trial or investigation and torture him. And they don’t even do that on their own territory.

What we have here is a violation of the basic principles of international law.

Andrey Fomine is the founder of the open dialogue research journal Oriental Review where this article first appeared. Read other articles by Andrey.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. MichaelKenny said on November 18th, 2010 at 9:36am #

    The extradition of Viktor Bout is a prefect example of universal jurisdiction, the praises of which are regularly sung on this website! You can’t have it both ways, folks! Universal jurisdiction cannot be right for people you dislike and wrong for those you like! By the way, the statement that “Thailand’s criminal court … acknowledged that Bout’s guilt is unproven” is legal nonsense. By very definition, since Bout hasn’t been tried yet, his guilt is “unproven”. That is a matter for the trial court, not a court conducting an extradition hearing, which applies purely procedural criteria.

  2. hayate said on November 18th, 2010 at 11:12am #

    More of the israeloamerican renditions is what this is. Thailand is well known for its craven subservience to the israeloamericans. They have to be, they are a major transshipment point for the 2nd largest centre of heroin (the largest is Afghanistan, another major transshipment point for the Jewish mafia’s heroin).

    Well, now is a good time to go after all those americans (and israelis, of course) who are “on holiday”, but actually “bringing democracy” to obstinate countries throughout the world for outfits like the mossad and the ned. Pick up and rendition them to 3rd countries for trial.

  3. bozh said on November 18th, 2010 at 3:25pm #

    all this pales with what u.s or u.s/nato [i have already stated that palestine is u.s territory] wld do in the future.
    let’s face it, every u.s war, terror, raid [against indigenes of america and asia] heralded more of the same.
    wars and terror may end only when nato-u.s obtains entire planet; with or without its people! tnx