Russia dismisses rumors over ‘Merchant of Death’ swap deal with U.S.

Topic: Viktor Bout case


Viktor Bout

© AFP/ Nicolas Asfouri 21:20 09/03/2011

Russia is not considering a swap deal with the United States over alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout and those convicted of spying for the United States, a source in the Russian security services said on Wednesday.

Bout, 44, is currently awaiting trial on charges including conspiring to supply arms to a Colombian terrorist group and killing U.S. nationals. He is allowed to communicate with his family and lawyers only through a glass panel.

A statement from the security service officer, who requested to remain anonymous, follows rumors that Bout could be released in exchange for a former Russian Defense Ministry officer accused of spying for the United States.

“Until the trial over Bout is over in the United States, the American side will never agree to this swap,” the source said.

Viktor Bout, an ex-Soviet military officer dubbed the Merchant of Death by western press, was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 during a sting operation led by U.S. agents. He was extradited to the United States in November last year after spending more than two and half years behind bars waiting for a decision on his extradition.

Bout denies all charges filed against him. He could face from 25 years to life in prison if found guilty under U.S. laws.

MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti) 

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