Bout Defense Prepares Extradition Request and Appeals

May 24, 2012

RIA Novosti on May 24, 2012 released the following:

“The defense team for imprisoned Russian businessman, Viktor Bout, has started work on an appeal to Russian Ministry of Justice requesting his extradition from the U.S. as well as appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Bout’s lawyer Albert Dayan said.

Under a convention between Russia and the U.S. dating from the 1980’s the Russian Ministry of Justice may request the handing over of Russians sentenced in the U.S. Eric Holder, the current U.S. Attorney General, has said that the U.S. may consider an application for Bout, who has been sentenced to 25 years in jail, to serve his prison term in Russia if they receive the request.

“The appeal to the Justice Ministry is already at work, it will take months to prepare the necessary documents. We simultaneously work on three lengthy legal documents; on the appeal and the claim to International Court of Justice in the Hague,” Dayan said.

Dayan added that the defense team had been extended to manage the volume of work required.

“Victor Bout’s appeal is not a personal letter from a Russian, not just a private request. We are working on a document that will prepare a legal base for the governments of Russia and the United States on his extradition. We are studying precedents, materials, bilateral and international agreements, and conventions. We are preparing arguments for the negotiations between Russia and the United States,” Dayan said.

Dayan also noted that Bout is keeping his spirits up and believes he will return to Russia.

“Viktor Bout continues to believe that the country would stand for him. He works hard and hopes to return home”, the lawyer said.

Bout, a former Soviet Air Force officer who was dubbed the “Merchant of Death” in the United States, has been sentenced to 25 years in a U.S. jail for conspiring to kill U.S. citizens and sell arms to Colombian militants. He maintains his innocence.

On May 11, the U.S. penitentiary authority said Bout would be sent from his Brooklyn jail to a super maximum security prison in Colorado, where convicted terrorists and other dangerous criminals are serving their sentences, often in solitary confinement.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Uncle Sam fabricates crimes due to political agenda – Bout

May 14, 2012

RT.com on May 13, 2012 released the following:

“Convicted arms trafficker Victor Bout told RT in an exclusive interview his case is purely political. Bout says his false conviction exposes America’s justice system as one of a police state on the brink of dictatorship.

Bout, who continues to maintain his innocence, is serving 25 years for conspiring to kill US citizens and sell arms to Colombian militants.

This week, it was decided that Bout will be sent from a New York prison to a super-maximum security prison, despite his trial judge recommending medium-security confinement.

The Colorado prison is known as the ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’, and houses America’s most-dangerous and violent criminals. Bout’s lawyer is fighting to overturn the decision.

RT: You are sentenced to a quarter of a century behind bars. What does it feel like?

Viktor Bout: They can put physically your body in jail but they cannot jail your spirit. If your spirit is free and you understand what freedom is – it is impossible to break you down to your knees. I know I did not commit anything to get that punishment. Whatever they allege me as crimes – these crimes would never exist, unless the US government would invent that crime.

They labeled that conspiracy with “kill Americans” which works like a magic bullet for the jury here. The trial was very similar to medieval witch-hunt trials of inquisition when you must confess that you did bad things.

I understand the reality. I try to bring the message to my friends and my family, to the Russian people: listen, what is happening to me is a pure political case.

RT: You’re in a process of appeal and you’ve also asked Russia’s State Duma to file a complaint against the US and Thailand. What are you hoping for legally and politically?

VB: Legally the lawyers would know better the precedent of American law and what my perspectives are and what they are going to do. But I have almost no hope because this system works so that once you’re put under judicial decisions – no judge, even the Supreme Court, would ever cancel that. Because this is a “truth in Über state”. Nobody can ever reconsider that decision. [In the US] it is accepted that juries cannot fail.

RT: We know you’re about to be transferred to prison in Colorado. Considering your family and lawyer are in New York, will this affect you a lot, this transfer?

VB: They are trying to put me in the most notorious underground jail in the mountains hidden underground so I could never see daylight again as a punishment. For them this is a chance to create more obstacles to a proper appeal.

RT: You said in court to the jury and DEA agents: “God knows the truth, you know the truth.” What is your message to the US officials today, maybe the US president?

VB: I have a message to the US president: “If you keep using those thugs named DEA agents who invent crimes, this would not help America to really solve the problem of drug wars. But instead of going to the real problem they would just create crimes because there is no danger for them to go to those who do not hide, provoke them, do their dirty tricks and frame people up instead of solving real problems with real drug traffickers.

RT: It has been reported you knew you were dealing with undercover agents, not FARC members, at the time of your arrest. Is this the case?

VB: I was not sure who they are. For me they were very strange people and by their posing I understood right away they have nothing to do with FARC at all.

RT: You were dubbed the ‘Merchant of Death’ – do you think this nickname affected your case more than it should have?

VB: Of course. This is what the entire story is about. First you create a myth, then you bring in people who already saw the movie… My company was doing transportation, but that was legitimate contracts with legitimate governments with all the formalities done properly.

RT: Why do you think they went after you?

VB: For them it does not matter whom they are going to pick up. The mass media is spoon-feeding the American population so they do not care whom they pick up.

RT: You’ve seen the movie about yourself with Nicolas Cage playing you. What do you think about his performance?

VB: I feel sorry for him because it is a very mediocre movie. I do not even think it is interesting to watch or that it is a fair representation of the problems of Africa.

RT: If you knew you’d be serving 25 years behind bars, would you act differently?

VB: I do not regret nothing in my life and I can face anything I did because I didn’t do anything wrong in my life.

RT: If you were a free man right now, do you know what you would be doing? Would you start something new?

VB: Of course. I’m already locked-up for four years behind bars by Uncle Sam. My life is ruined completely. I don’t have any money left at all. They have not only closed my company, but put executive orders claiming $3 billion from me.

I’m asking a challenging president of the US: show the proof that I ever owned those billions! At least I know where to get money for my defense team.

If you repeat something a thousand times – it becomes the truth. This is the recipe used by the US administration, just like they did with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

RT: Critics of your case have been saying it is anti-Russian. Is it the case?

VB: Of course it is anti-Russian. Look at what happened in Thailand during the extradition procedure. The criminal court of Bangkok denied the extradition. They applied tremendous pressure on the government of Thailand and actually bought me out, not extradited. We submitted an appeal to the Thai court and it is still not finished. The pressure was so huge they had to pass me to the American side. My case is still on the shelves in Thailand.

If there is a political will of the Thai government and they want to prove they have real, not mock, justice, and that they are not a colony of the US – they have to do a decision on my case.

RT: Will there be more ‘manufactured crimes’ when foreigners are brought unlawfully to American soil?

VB: The FBI and the DEA are manufacturing crimes regularly. I closely monitor such cases… This is how they fight their war on terror, because terror is not a state or a person.

RT: You said you’ll be able to return home earlier than your term is over. How is that?

VB: My case is purely political. Despite the American procedures the Russian public knows the truth.

My case shows the real condition of the American justice system of a police state close to dictatorship.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Prosecutors: Smulian Testimony ‘Crucial’ In Viktor Bout Conviction

April 18, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on April 17, 2012 released the following:

“By Chad Bray

The testimony and assistance of a dual British-South African citizen was “crucial” in securing the conviction of notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, prosecutors said in a court filing late Monday.

Andrew Smulian, 71 years old, was arrested in Thailand, along with Bout, as part of an undercover sting operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in March 2008 and he waived extradition. After arriving in the U.S., he began providing information to prosecutors and pleaded guilty to four conspiracy counts in July 2008.

In a sentencing memorandum filed late Monday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan sad that Smulian’s cooperation was a key: ranging from detailing meetings and conversations with Bout to refuting Bout’s defense that he only intended to sell airplanes, not weapons.

“Smulian was also able to describe coded email messages and intercepted phone conversations, as only an insider in a secretive conspiracy could,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan R. McGuire said in a court filing. “Although the recordings and emails themselves were powerful evidence of Bout’s guilt, the context and explanation that Smulian provided–and the credible manner in which he provided them–was critical to the government’s proof at trial.”

Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison earlier this month after he was convicted last year of four conspiracy counts, including conspiracies to sell surface-to-air missiles, to kill Americans and to provide material support to a Colombian rebel group.

Labeled the “Merchant of Death” at one point by American officials, Bout, 45 years old, has denied wrongdoing. His lawyer, Albert Y. Dayan, has said Bout was only trying to sell two cargo planes when he went to the meeting in Thailand and has said his prosecution was “the product of outrageous, inexcusable government conduct.”

Bout was extradited to the U.S. in 2010 after two years of legal wrangling and over the objections of the Russian government.

Smulian’s lawyer, Mary E. Mulligan, has asked that her client be sentenced to “time served,” citing his cooperation, his health and his acceptance of responsibility. In a court filing earlier this month, she noted that he has been in custody since his arrest more than four years ago and suffers from a “battery of chronic and serious medical conditions,” including hypertension and type II diabetes.

“The successful prosecution of Viktor Bout resulting from Mr. Smulian’s cooperation has sent a powerful message both domestically and internationally that terrorist activity against the United States will be investigated and prosecuted aggressively and successfully,” Mulligan said in court papers. “It was Mr. Smulian’s cooperation in the Bout prosecution that brought this to bear.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


US prosecutors seeking life sentence for former Soviet arms dealer Viktor Bout

April 5, 2012

The Washington Post on April 5, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

NEW YORK — A Russian man who became known as the “Merchant of Death” for his exploits in arms sales markets worldwide is set to learn Thursday how long he’ll be in U.S. prison after his defense lawyers asked a judge to set him free and prosecutors asked that he never get out.

Viktor Bout, 45, faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison and possibly life during sentencing for his conviction on terrorism charges. His lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin to throw out his conviction, saying he’s a political prisoner who stepped into a vindictive U.S. government sting operation.

Federal prosecutors say Bout should spend life in prison because he agreed “without hesitation and with frightening speed” to ship “a breathtaking arsenal of weapons,” including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and sniper rifles along with 10 million rounds of ammunition to men he believed represented a foreign terrorist organization willing to kill Americans in Colombia.

They say his weapons fueled armed conflicts in some of the world’s most treacherous hot spots, including Rwanda, Angola and the Congo and that he was looking for new arms deals in places like Libya and Tanzania when he was arrested.

Lawyers for Bout, who was the inspiration for an arms dealer character played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film “Lord of War,” say their client became a political prisoner after Drug Enforcement Administration agents coaxed him from his Russian home to Thailand, where he was arrested in March 2008. They say the charges stemmed from a made-up scenario to deliver weapons to rebels in South America to shoot down American helicopter pilots.

“The relentless pursuit of Viktor Bout and the abominable design to create a criminal case against him that brings him before this court for sentencing is the product of malice and object of private politics stemming from the then White House,” defense attorney Albert Dayan wrote in a letter to Scheindlin, a judge who recently ordered Bout moved from solitary confinement into the general prison population.

Dayan said the prosecution resulted from “outrageous, inexcusable government conduct” to get his client even after Bout rebuffed the first approach by U.S. operatives by saying the Russian government had ordered him to withdraw from any illegal arms deals.

Dayan said his client faked his way through negotiations for a $15 million to $20 million arms deal so he could sell two shoddy cargo planes for $5 million to U.S. government operatives. He said the operatives followed a well scripted dialogue of anti-Americanism that would whip American jurors into “a blind rage … and ultimately to conviction.”

Dayan said Bout’s conviction culminated a plan put in motion by the U.S. to avenge the embarrassing revelation that U.S. military contractors had arranged in late 2003 with Bout-owned or Bout-controlled companies to deliver tents, food and other supplies for U.S. firms working for the U.S. military in Iraq.

The deliveries occurred despite United Nations sanctions imposed against Bout since 2001 because of his reputation as a notorious illegal arms dealer, Dayan said.

The lawyer noted that the U.S. Treasury Department imposed its own ban on dealings with Bout in July 2004, citing in part the “unproven allegation” that Bout made $50 million in profits from arms transfers to the Taliban when Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida were based in Afghanistan.

Federal prosecutors said the government initiated its investigation in 2007 because Bout “constituted a threat to the United States and to the international community based on his reported history of arming some of the world’s most violent and destabilizing dictators and regimes.”

“Although Bout has often described himself as nothing more than a businessman, he was a businessman of the most dangerous order,” prosecutors said in their memo. “Transnational criminals like Bout who are ready, willing and able to arm terrorists transform their customers from intolerant ideologues into lethal criminals who pose the gravest risk to civilized societies.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Solitary Confinement Is Too Harsh for ‘Lord of War’ Vicktor Bout

February 11, 2012

Courthouse News Service on February 10, 2012 released the following:

“By ADAM KLASFELD

MANHATTAN (CN) – International arms smuggler Viktor Bout should not face solitary confinement, a federal judge insisted at a combative hearing on Friday afternoon.

A Russian national, Bout was the subject of the nonfiction book “Merchant of Death,” and allegedly inspired the Hollywood movie “The Lord of War.” For years, he was suspected of arming dictators, despots and warring factions in the Congo, Angola, Sierra Leone and other conflict zones around the world.

Though sanctioned by the United Nations, Bout remained a free man for more than a decade until the U.S. government snared him in “Operation Relentless,” a sting operation with undercover informants posing as guerrillas from the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

A federal jury convicted him in November, and U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin refused to set aside the verdict at a hearing on Thursday.

At that hearing, Scheindlin reportedly criticized the conditions of Bout’s imprisonment as “harsh.” She convened the Friday afternoon hearing to leave no doubt that those conditions must change.

A Jan. 20, 2011, administration order called for Bout’s incarceration in a maximum-security cell of the Metropolitan Correctional Center for 23 hours per day. Adam Johnson, the prison’s supervising attorney, said that Bout usually declines the hour per day in which he is allowed to use the recreational center.

Bout’s attorney Albert Dayan says the center is an indoor cell much like his own, in which he cannot interact with the other inmates. Bout’s only source of outside air comes from the occasional “crack” to the recreation room’s window, Dayan said.

While the prison accommodates Bout’s vegetarian diet, Bout says he is only fed oatmeal, peanut butter and beans in a pot.

He can only place a phone call or meet with his family once a month, Johnson said.

Scheindlin told Johnson that he should call Bout’s prison conditions by their name.

“Long-term solitary confinement is the way to put it,” Scheindlin said, adding that “studies have been conducted” on its effects.

A 2009 New Yorker article titled “Hellhole,” explored the movement to define isolation as torture. Psychologists for Social Responsibility have called supermax prisons “cruel, unusual and inhumane” in an open letter opposing the confinement of alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, before he was transferred from Quantico.

Suzanne Hastings, a warden at MCC, claimed that solitary was necessary to keep Bout from harming the guards, other inmates and himself.

Scheindlin brushed aside that argument, arguing that nothing in the record indicated that Bout was violent or linked to any terrorist organization.

“This is a businessman,” Scheindlin said, indicating Bout. “You might not like the business he’s in.”

That business, the judge pointed out later, was “the arms business.”

“This country sells a lot of arms,” Scheindlin added.

Though convicted of arming terrorists, the FARC militants that Bout agreed to arm were all undercover government informants.

“I’m familiar with this case, and I can distinguish it from other so-called terrorism cases,” Scheindlin said.

Kenneth Kaplan, Bout’s other attorney, cited cases in which inmates in the MCC’s terrorism unit were ordered into more humane detention.

One, Kathy Boudine, was convicted of felony murder and armed robbery in an operation with the Weather Underground.

Another, Mafia soldier Vincent Basciano, was placed in the section of the prison normally reserved for convicted terrorists until the 2nd Circuit intervened, Kaplan said.

“He was a dangerous guy,” Scheindlin said. “Didn’t he threaten a judge? I haven’t been threatened [by Bout].”

Scheindlin requested that prosecutors and defense attorneys file arguments about her ability to change the conditions of Bout’s confinement and judicial precedents for such actions.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


‘Merchant of death’ trial to open in New York

October 11, 2011

CNN on October 11, 2011 released the following:

“By Mick B. Krever, CNN

New York (CNN) — After evading international authorities for nearly two decades, alleged international arms and drug smuggler Viktor Bout, widely dubbed the “merchant of death” by his accusers, will go on trial in New York Tuesday.

The Russian businessman is charged with a wide range of counts, including conspiracy to kill Americans, attempting to sell arms to undercover federal agents, wire fraud and violating U.N. Security Council sanctions. Bout pleaded not guilty to all charges last year.

“I’m very confident that the trial will make it transparent that Viktor Bout did not intend to sell arms to anyone,” Bout’s lawyer, Albert Y. Dayan, said during pretrial hearings.

International security experts say that the charges encompass only a small fraction of what they believe Bout is responsible for.

Kathi Lynn Austin, an arms researcher, called Bout “the quintessential war profiteer” in an interview with CNN. By providing larger and more-powerful arms than rebels would otherwise have had access to, Austin said, Bout “has actually initiated wars in countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.”

“He unquestionably made some of the worst wars of the 20th century, early 21st century, much worse than they would have been,” said Douglas Farah, a national security consultant who co-wrote a book about Bout.

The 2005 movie “Lord of War,” starring Nicholas Cage, was inspired by Bout’s life.

The heart of the charges against Bout stem from a 2008 sting operation in Thailand by the Drug Enforcement Agency. According to a 2008 federal indictment, undercover agents, posing as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, attempted to buy larges caches of weapons from Bout.

Agents attempted to buy 700 to 800 surface-to-air missiles, thousands of AK-47s, and landmines, according to the indictment. They told Bout that they wanted the arms “to kill Americans,” to which Bout said that he “was going to prepare everything the FARC needed.”

“It’s like getting Capone for a single homicide or a single jug of whiskey,” Farah said. “It’s actually what he was doing, but on a much smaller scale.” Al Capone was a powerful Chicago gangster of the 1920s who was sent to prison on tax evasion charges.

The DEA struggled to draw Bout out of his Russian homeland, which had long sheltered and defended him. Undercover agents met with Bout’s associates the world over, from Curacao to Copenhagen, in an attempt to set up a meeting with their target, according to the indictment.

“He wanted to close the deals himself, he liked to shake hands with the person he was selling the weapons to,” Farah said. “Ultimately, that was his undoing in Bangkok, because he wanted to fly in and close the deal himself.”

Bout has maintained that he was simply in the business of shipping, and has never been involved in arms sales.

“I’m not afraid. I don’t do anything in my life I should be afraid,” Bout told CNN’s Jill Dougherty in a 2002 interview in Moscow. “This whole story looks to me like a witch hunt.””

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Viktor Bout in Federal Court this Week; Requests Continuance and Improved Prison Conditions

March 1, 2011

Alleged Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, is back in federal court this week requesting additional time to prepare his defense strategy since acquiring new U.S. counsel. On Thursday, March 3, the judge will rule on a motion for continuance regarding the already approved court dates. Bout’s trial is set to begin September 12, 2011, in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York.

Just a few weeks ago, Bout expressed disapproval regarding his court appointed federal defense attorney. Bout has since retained new counsel, Albert Dayan, that must review the case and develop a defense strategy before trial. The amount of time Bout’s new counsel will ask for depends on the complexity of the issues involved. The federal judge has discretion whether to grant the motion and set a new trial date, or deny the motion and keep the present schedule.

Bout has also requested the court for improved prison conditions. Bout is being held in a high-security bloc of a New York prison while awaiting trial. Bout has pleaded not guilty to all charges brought against him. If convicted, Bout faces a prison term from 25 years to life sentence.

Dayan says strict prison conditions, under which Bout is allowed to communicate only through a glass panel, make it impossible to discuss the case properly and violate Bout’s right for defense.

Bout’s wife earlier complained that her husband, a vegetarian, did not get proper food and his menu did not comply with the prescribed medicine that he has been taking for the last two months.

The former Soviet military officer 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.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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