Cables show US envoy warned of bribes in arms case
Thursday, December 02, 2021 1:17 AM

Related Stories

(Source: Associated Press/AP Online)By STEVE BRAUN

WASHINGTON - The American ambassador to Thailand warned that country's leader last year that associates of suspected Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout tried to prevent his extradition to the U.S. and were behind bribery schemes and a plot to arrest U.S. officials, according to a secret diplomatic memo released Wednesday by WikiLeaks.

In a February 2009 meeting with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Ambassador Eric John told of "serious concerns that Bout's associates had been able to influence testimony" during the suspect's drawn-out hearings on extradition to the U.S.

"Russian supporters have been using money and influence in an attempt to block extradition," John told Abhisit, according to the cable.

Bout was jailed in Bangkok in March 2008 after he was arrested in a sting by U.S. narcotic agents on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to a terrorist group. He fought extradition for more than 2 1/2 years until Thai officials ordered him sent to the U.S. last month. Bout was flown to New York to face trial and is being held in a federal detention facility.

Bout, 43, gained notoriety as the alleged armorer for African dictators and the Taliban's mullahs. The United States, its allies and the U.N. tried in vain to scuttle his worldwide operation for more than a decade while Bout built a massive fleet of more than 60 cargo planes and amassed a fortune estimated by American investigators at more than $6 billion.

John told the Thai leader during their session that "bribery had infected the Bout proceedings" and warned that false testimony could lead the Thai court to "possibly deny extradition."

The ambassador told Abhisit that U.S. officials had learned of a scheme to "arrest and embarrass" two federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents who were assigned to the Bout investigation. According to John, unnamed plotters aimed to have the two agents arrested, apparently by Thai law enforcement, "on meritless charges participating in illegal recordings of Bout on the day of his arrest."

Much of the federal prosecution's case against Bout is expected to be based on extensive wiretaps of Bout's conversations in Bangkok and elsewhere around the world. The DEA also employed several undercover informants to lure him to Thailand. A former Bout associate who was arrested with him in a Bangkok luxury hotel is expected to testify against him.

John also detailed false testimony from several witnesses for Bout who had claimed he went to Bangkok "to conduct official business with the Thai government" in connection with a Russian submarine project.

The cable reported that Abhisit agreed to deal with the "irregularities" in the extradition proceedings through Thai channels and asked for the identities of the bribery plotters. U.S. officials provided the names, the cable reported.

Six months later, Bout was still fighting his extradition and U.S. officials were growing frustrated, according to a second cable released Wednesday. The Aug. 13, 2009, document, also marked "secret," describes an Aug. 11 Thai court decision against extradition as "disappointing" and based on "dubious legal reasoning."

John vented his disappointment with the Thai foreign minister, and other officials advised that President Barack Obama and other top administration officials needed to weigh in with the Thai government.

Discussion of a telephone call from Obama to Abhisit "has been under way for some time; they have not spoken in the seven months both have been in office," embassy officials noted in the cable. "We suggest that the call be accelerated and that it include a serious discussion of our concerns over the implications of the Bout verdict, as outlined above. We believe POTUS involvement on Bout would have significant effect here."

POTUS means president of the United States.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton later brought up the Bout case with Thai leaders, but there has been no public indication that Obama also raised the case with Abhisit.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.



Symbol :


Market news:

  • House censures veteran Rep. Rangel for misconduct Dec 02, 2021 08:44 PM

    • WASHINGTON - Veteran Rep. Charles Rangel, the raspy-voiced, backslapping former chairman of one of Congress' most powerful committees, was censured by his House colleagues for financial misconduct Thursday in a solemn moment of humiliation in the sunset of his career.
    • After the 333-79 vote, the 80-year-old Democrat from New York's Harlem stood silently at the front of the House and faced Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she read him the formal resolution of censure.
    • The last previous House censure was in 1983, when two members, Reps.
      • Aretha Franklin calls her surgery a success Dec 02, 2021 08:13 PM

        • NEW YORK - Aretha Franklin says her surgery was "highly successful" and thanks well-wishers for their prayers.
        • In a statement released Thursday to The Associated Press, the Queen of Soul says: "God is still in control.
        • I had superb doctors and nurses whom were blessed by all the prayers of the city and the country."
          • Microbe found that can use arsenic as nutrient Dec 02, 2021 08:13 PM

            • WASHINGTON - The discovery of a strange bacteria that can use arsenic as one of its nutrients widens the scope for finding new forms of life on Earth and possibly beyond.
            • While researchers discovered the unusual bacteria here on Earth, they say it shows that life has possibilities beyond the major elements that have been considered essential.
            • That makes it very peculiar, though it falls short of being some form of truly 'alien' life," commented Paul C. W. Davies of Arizona State University, a co-author of the report appearing in Thursday's online edition of the journal Science.
              • Snowman with noose appalls Idaho home's neighbors Dec 02, 2021 08:13 PM

                • HAYDEN, Idaho - A white separatist drew complaints from neighbors and a visit from law enforcement officers after building a snowman shaped like a member of the Ku Klux Klan on his front lawn.
                • Deputies were called by neighbors who were appalled by the pointy-headed snowman with two dark eyes.
                • Hayden for decades earned notoriety for being near the former rural compound of the Aryan Nations.
                  • Congress sends child nutrition bill to Obama Dec 02, 2021 08:13 PM

                    • WASHINGTON - More children would eat lunches and dinners at school under legislation passed Thursday by the House and sent to the president, part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to end childhood hunger and fight childhood obesity.
                    • The $4.5 billion bill approved by the House 264-157 would also try to cut down on greasy foods and extra calories by giving the government power to decide what kinds of foods may be sold in vending machines and lunch lines.
                    • The bill could even limit frequent school bake sales and fundraisers that give kids extra chances to eat brownies and pizza.

                      More news


    Recent Estimates

AnalystFirm NameSymbolEPS Estimate
mrbilltraderXXXXX POT$1.15
sam farahanXXXXX TECD$0.95
adfgafg ERTS($0.26)