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. http://skypotrol.net/tag/edward-snowden/ 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.