NEW-YORK, November 15 - RAPSI, Larisa Sayenko. Russian citizen Viktor Bout, who has been sentenced by the United States to 25 years in prison for illegal trade of weapons, has said that he was expecting the U.S. Justice Department to refuse to extradite him to Russia.
"I am not surprised by the decision. They have prevented me from going home, but they will not be able to prevent me from fighting for my release and from believing in justice. The entire case is a pack of barefaced lies," Bout told RIA Novosti via his attorney.
Last week, the Department of Justice refused to allow Bout to be transferred to Russia to serve his prison term there, citing the graveness of the crimes committed, the objections by law enforcement authorities and Bout's criminal past as the reasons for the refusal. The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed its dissatisfaction at the announcement and is determined to keeping working for Bout's return.
"I do not believe any "secret diplomacy" between Washington and Moscow will help my release. I only count on the active and effective support of my compatriots, including the employees of state organizations and ordinary Russian citizens, who will understand that I was put behind bars out of political motives alone," Bout said.
A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia will continue fighting for Bout's case in the firm belief that he inflicted no harm on the United States or on U.S. citizens. Moscow also hopes that the U.S. courts will consider Bout's appeal against his sentence impartially.
A former Soviet military officer, Viktor Bout was convicted in November 2011 of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, including military officers and employees, conspiring to supply man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, and selling millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC.
Bout, who has consistently denied the charges against him, was sentenced to 25 years in April 2012. He is serving his prison term in the United States Penitentiary, Marion (USP Marion) in Illinois. Russia attempted to have Bout transferred from the United States in line with the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, but without success.