Accused Russian Arms Trafficker Says He Rejected US Plea Bargain
An accused Russian arms dealer, held in the United States as one of the world’s most prolific arms traffickers, says he has rejected a U.S. plea bargain deal that would have compelled him to reveal his connections in Russia and other countries.
Viktor Bout, in a U.S. prison awaiting trial, also accused Washington of waging a well-orchestrated public relations campaign against him and said he does not expect a fair trial in the United States.
Bout’s comments were reported Sunday by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.
The 43-year-old former Soviet military translator insists he is innocent and has accused U.S. authorities of trying to make him a scapegoat for a variety of international problems.
Bout was extradited from Thailand last year, two years after his arrest in an elaborate sting operation by U.S. agents. An indictment accuses him of using a fleet of cargo planes in the 1990s to transport weapons to insurgents and militants in Africa, South America and the Middle East. Bout says he ran a legitimate air transport business.
The Russian government lobbied heavily against Bout’s extradition, denouncing the action as illegal when he was finally deported to the United States in November after more than two years of legal maneuvering.