U.S. extending its legal jurisdiction into other countries, apparently

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

    May 15, 2017
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    Some people might say this man wasn’t totally innocent, but to me this raises some very troubling legal questions.

    Viktor Bout was accused of intending to sell rocket launchers and was sentenced to 25 years. So far nothing that surprising.

    But Viktor Bout was a Russian citizen, and had never even visited the U.S. before. What’s more, the alleged “crime” took place in Thailand, and that’s where he was arrested after U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted a sting operation there. He was accused of agreeing to supply weapons to undercover agents who he thought were representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. No sale actually took place, and Bout did not have any weapons with him. He was accused simply on the basis of testimony from undercover agents that he had made a vague verbal agreement to supply weapons at some point in the future.

    Anyone see the problem with this? A Russian citizen in Thailand being arrested under U.S. law ?

    Viktor Anatolyevich Bout, who operated an air transportation business, had been suspected by many of facilitating arms shipments into conflict zones around the world, but there was never adequate evidence enough to prove it.

    The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) is a rebel group in the country of Columbia that’s on the U.S. “Foreign Terrorist Organization” list, but it’s not a exactly a terrorist organization in the same sense that Islamic terrorist organizations are. Under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the U.S. Secretary of State may add any foreign organization to the list that he deems to be engaged in “terrorist activities”, and it then automatically becomes a crime to provide “material support” to that organization in any form.

    FARC had been engaged in an ongoing war with the government of Colombia for many years. The origins of the conflict go back to 1948 to a period in the country that is known as “La Violencia”. Later in the 1960’s the government pushed an economic policy that forced all the peasants off their land, resulting in large numbers of impoverished landless people from the countryside having to migrate to the cities. Beginning in 1962-1964 the U.S. government began waging a covert war in Columbia, which continued off and on up until 2013.

    Viktor Bout did not really know anything about this, of course. The undercover agents had simply mentioned that they were representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia. So it’s not a crime to say you will sell weapons to somebody, but it is if that person tells you they are a member of FARC.

    After being taken into custody and held in Thailand on an international arrest warrant, Bout tried to contest extradition to the United States. He had been arrested in Bangkok on March 6, 2008. In February 2009, members of the United States Congress signed a letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretary of State Clinton, expressing their wish that the extradition of Bout “remain a top priority”.

    On August 11, 2009, the Criminal Court ruled in his favor, denying the United States’ request for extradition and citing the political, not criminal, nature of the case.

    The United States appealed that ruling. On August 20, 2010, a higher court in Thailand ruled that Bout could, in fact, be extradited to the United States. On November 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm, Bout was extradited to the United States.

    Russia called the extradition illegal. “Russia has questioned the U.S. claim of jurisdiction given that he is not an American citizen and is not alleged to have committed crimes on US soil. Undoubtedly, the illegal extradition of Bout is a result of the unprecedented political pressure on the Thai government and the judicial authorities by the United States,” said Russia’s foreign ministry.

    Under Thai law, Bout would have had to have been set free on November 20, 2010. The Thai court had imposed a deadline for Viktor Bout’s extradition which happened only four days before the deadline.

    An important fact in the case that should not be overlooked is that, if it were not for one particular key witness, the prosecutor’s case against Viktor Bout would have been unsuccessful. Viktor Bout would NOT be in prison if it were not for a former acquaintance, Andrew Smulian, who eventually became a DEA informant.

    Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article titled Conduit to Arms Sting, a Star Witness Apologizes for His Crimes written about Andrew Smulian:

    “So, that day in March 2008, when Mr. Bout and Mr. Smulian were arrested in Thailand, Mr. Smulian decided to switch sides. Over the past four years, he has cooperated with the authorities against Mr. Bout, meeting regularly with prosecutors and agents, and pleading guilty to supporting terrorism, among other charges.

    Viktor Bout and many close to him claim that Smulian was already a DEA informant before and during the sting operation. If Bout’s lawyer was able to prove this during the trial, then the case would have been dismissed due to entrapment. The judge explained during the verdict in her directions to the jury that a conspiracy with a DEA agent and / or a DEA informant is by law not a conspiracy.”

    Here are a few more excerpts from the above referenced New York Times article:

    “A prosecutor, Anjan Sahni, said Mr. Smulian’s cooperation 'was indeed critical' in helping to refute Mr. Bout’s defense.”

    “His testimony was consistently careful and precise.”

    “Mr. Smulian’s plea agreement states that if deemed necessary, prosecutors would takes steps to protect him and his family after his release from prison, including possibly applying for his entry into the witness protection program.”

    Mr. Smulian was released from Federal prison approximately 100 days after the date of Bout’s sentencing on April 5th 2012. Viktor Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined $15 million. Smulian is believed to be in the Federal witness protection program.


    Just in case any of you don't see the problem with this, realize that criminal individuals who are under indictment will often say all sorts of things against former colleagues that are not true, to try to strike a plea bargain with the prosecutor and get sentenced to much less time. It's not difficult for a prosecutor to be able to coerce whatever type of testimony they want out of a person when that individual is facing the prospect of decades in prison, a subject that is elaborated a little more on in this thread: when prosecutors use criminal witnesses .

    This was basically entrapment, carried out in a foreign country, no less.

    The fact that the U.S. extended its legal jurisdiction into another sovereign country to enforce its own laws sets a troubling precedent and should be concerning.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2018
  2. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

    May 15, 2017
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    On February 17, 2010, the US Justice Department had indicted Bout and Richard Ammar Chichakli "for allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ("IEEPA") stemming from their efforts to purchase two aircraft from companies located in the United States, in violation of economic sanctions which prohibited such financial transactions." Other charges included "money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and six separate counts of wire fraud, in connection with these financial transactions." In March 2008, he was originally charged with conspiring to kill Americans by "selling millions of dollars worth of weapons to Colombia-based narco-terrorists." Other charges were then added, including selling weapons to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. An unsealed superseding indictment alleged "the extraordinary breadth of [his] criminal enterprise."

    But there was never any appropriate evidence for all these charges and allegations. The prosecution, in turns out, had manufactured spurious "evidence" to indict and try to prosecute. When sufficient evidence didn’t exist, it was invented. All too common in the American justice system. It’s important to remember that this entire undercover operation and trial did not result in an actual conviction of arms dealing.

    Prosecutors in the Bout case faced vocal criticism about this not just from the defense, but also the judge. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin accused the government of “bravado” in making its case to prosecute the Russian citizen in the U.S. “There’s a long line of cases where we look at the facts of each case,” she said. “This one is weak.”

    Ironically, at one time the U.S. government may have been one of Bout's largest customers.

    The following article, titled "Rigged trial a final step toward bars for Bout?", appeared in Russia Today:

    “He was set up, entrapped, and framed. No legitimate evidence exists against him. Everything claimed was falsified. He was targeted in summer 2004. He operated mostly in Africa and Eurasia. His business dominated his areas of concentration. The CIA wanted to control arms trafficking on the continent, and monopolize air transport for it. Bout stood in the way. He had to go. The scheme involved transforming a legitimate businessman and US supplier into an illegal arms trafficker and "Lord of War." They did it with no evidence of weapons, missiles, explosives, or other implements of war. Authorities only had what DEA agent Derek Odney claimed, and he was part of the scheme to frame Bout. He unsuccessfully tried to bribe a Russian intelligence official in return for help getting him extradited to America.

    No weapons existed. No money changed hands. No evidence whatever exists except what Washington manufactured to indict and convict him. In the process, they destroyed his business, reputation, and life by assuring his imprisonment unless Russia is able to apply enough pressure to free him.

    A spurious post-9/11 Johan Peleman UN report led to his downfall, business collapse, indictment, and conviction. Allegedly Peleman was well paid for his services.

    Like CIA, the DEA runs its own global intelligence and surveillance network. It extends well beyond illicit drugs. It blurs the line between the two agencies.

    In Thailand, DEA agents posed as FARC-EP operatives. They recorded conversations manipulated to sound like Bout wanted to sell them weapons. Enough tapes can be spliced and diced to say anything. Prior to his entrapment, Bout did no business in Latin America. That alone proved something rotten. He operated in Africa and Eurasia, besides doing business with Washington.

    Twice Thai courts exonerated him for lack of evidence. Yet he was held and extradited to America.

    Reports suggested Obama personally pressured its government to cooperate. Getting Bout out of the way meant that much. Reportedly, Washington spent $100 million to do it. It shows how low America stoops, won't take no for an answer, and cost doesn't matter to frame another victim.

    International law was trashed. Bout's rights were denied. Extraditing him was illegal. So was indicting and convicting him. Juries fed falsified information are intimidated to go along.

    The scenario repeats against numerous framed defendants. It's simple when terrorism's alleged or conspiracy to commit it. Most often, juries won't risk freeing someone perhaps guilty even if not sure. Perhaps they feel better safe than sorry. They don't know they were duped.

    Moreover, when defendants Washington wants framed are exonerated, they face new charges enough times until convicted.

    Bout was a successful businessman. He began from scratch. He operated legally. His air cargo company transported everything from oil to eggs. At times, legal weapons as well for clients like America. Among other destinations, he shipped them to Afghanistan and Iraq. He also worked with the UN in Sudan. Earlier, when civil wars wracked Africa, other cargo companies left, but he stayed. It paid off handsomely until Washington destroyed all he built.”

    Bout says he never believed he had any chance of winning the case against him since the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) “spent $100 million” on an operation to capture him. He added that since he was being charged with attempting to “kill Americans”, as stated in the court files, it would be “impossible” for any US-based jury to find him innocent.

    “I'm innocent. I haven’t committed any crime,” Bout said.
    He also pointed out that if the same standards were applied to everyone, all arms suppliers in the U.S. who are sending arms that end up killing Americans could end up in prison.

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