On February 17, 2010, the
US Justice Department indicted Bout and Richard Ammar Chichakli "for
allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic
Powers Act ("IEEPA") stemming from their efforts to purchase two aircraft
from companies located in the United States, in violation of economic
sanctions which prohibited such financial transactions."
Other charges included "money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy,
and six separate counts of wire fraud, in connection with these financial
In March 2008, he was originally charged with conspiring to kill Americans
by "selling millions of dollars worth of weapons to Colombia-based narco-terrorists."
Other charges were then added, including selling weapons to Al Qaeda
and the Taliban.
An unsealed superseding indictment alleged "the extraordinary breadth
of (his) criminal enterprise."
America's criminal justice system notoriously manufactures spurious
"evidence" to indict, prosecute, convict, and imprison. When evidence
doesn't exist, it's invented. America's gulag is filled with thousands
of wrongfully incarcerated victims.
Most are Black, Latino, or Muslims. Occasionally someone like Bout is
targeted for political and/or other reasons. Washington called him the
"Merchant of Death" and "Lord of War."
Hyperbole substitutes for facts. Juries are intimidated to convict.
Right-wing judges go along. America's criminal justice system's corrupted.
Targeted victims rarely have a chance.
In Bout's case, their was no plot, no crime, and no intent to commit
one. Nonetheless, he was lawlessly entrapped to make it look that way.
On November 2, 2011, Bout was convicted of conspiring to sell weapons
to Colombia's FARC-EP. The State Department spuriously designated it
a "foreign terrorist organization."
The Justice Department said "He aimed to sell weapons to terrorists
for the purpose of killing Americans. With today's swift verdict, justice
has been done, and a very dangerous man will be behind bars." The DEA
was thanked for its helped. Another innocent man was framed.
He faced 25 years to life. Prosecutors asked for the maximum. Late Thursday,
US District Judge Shira Scheindlin gave him the minimum mandatory 25
year sentence. His Russian lawyer Viktor Burobin said he's wrongfully
characterized as an "enemy of the American people." He's nothing of
Bout insists he's innocent. He said charges against him were fabricated.
He accused media scoundrels of repeating "sensationalist and irresponsible
coverage of his case."
He ran a legitimate air cargo business. He said everything he did was
legal. A lawless Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sting entrapped
him. He hopes Russian authorities will intervene on his behalf. They've
tried but need to do more. Otherwise he'll do hard time and rot like
other US injustice victims.
A Russian businessman, he claims malicious lies were manufactured about
him. He blames a UN official. He arranged contracts for Bout's companies.
He then helped sell him out.
Last October, Russia Today headlined, "Rigged trial a final step toward
bars for Bout?" saying:
His family expected no fairness. In 2008, Washington got Thai authorities
to arrest and hold him. In November 2010, they were pressured to extradite
him to America. They knew he was innocent but yielded anyway.
Bout said America falsely claimed he was a billionaire and illegal arms
dealer. He's no billionaire or even rich after his ordeal. In fact,
he ended up in debt. He insists he "never traded in weapons." Media
scoundrels regurgitated official lies with no evidence beyond what prosecutors
Douglas Farah wrote about his case in his book titled, "Merchant of
Death." He ran his business legally. Farah, however, repeated prosecutorial
lies. In August 2008, he even lied to Congress. Maybe he wanted to sell
books and/or cash in by cooperating with authorities.
Ironically, Washington at one time was one of Bout's largest customers.
Now they want him imprisoned for life.
He was set up, entrapped, and framed. No legitimate evidence exists
against him. Everything claimed was falsified. He was targeted in summer
2004. He operated mostly in Africa and Eurasia. His business dominated
his areas of concentration.
The CIA wanted to control arms trafficking on the continent, and monopolize
air transport for it. Bout stood in the way. He had to go. The scheme
involved transforming a legitimate businessman and US supplier into
an illegal arms trafficker and "Lord of War."
They did it with no evidence of weapons, missiles, explosives, or other
implements of war. Authorities only had what DEA agent Derek Odney claimed,
and he was part of the scheme to frame Bout. He unsuccessfully tried
to bribe a Russian intelligence official in return for help getting
him extradited to America.
No weapons existed. No money changed hands. No evidence whatever exists
except what Washington manufactured to indict and convict him. In the
process, they destroyed his business, reputation, and life by assuring
his imprisonment unless Russia's able to apply enough pressure to free
A spurious post-9/11 Johan Peleman UN report led to his downfall, business
collapse, indictment, and conviction. Allegedly Peleman was well paid
for his services. At issue again was the CIA wanting him out of the
way to conduct their own activities freely.
It shouldn't surprise as America's involved in these type shenanigans
globally. People are enlisted to help, then discarded when no longer
needed, or in Bout's case, maliciously framed to destroy him.
Like CIA, the DEA runs its own global intelligence and surveillance
network. It extends well beyond elicit drugs. It blurs the line between
the two agencies.
In Thailand, DEA agents posed as FARC-EP operatives. They recorded conversations
manipulated to sound like Bout wanted to sell them weapons.
Enough tapes can be spliced and diced to say anything. Prior to his
entrapment, Bout did no business in Latin America. That alone proved
something rotten. He operated in Africa and Eurasia, besides doing business
Twice Thai courts exonerated him for lack of evidence. Yet he was held
and extradited to America. It was extraordinary rendition Thailand-style.
Reports suggested Obama personally pressured its government to cooperate.
Getting Bout out of the way meant that much. Reportedly, Washington
spent $100 million to do it. It shows how low America stoops, won't
take no for an answer, and cost doesn't matter to frame another victim.
International law was trashed. Bout's rights were denied. Extraditing
him was illegal. So was indicting and convicting him. Juries fed falsified
information are intimidated to go along.
The scenario repeats against numerous framed defendants. It's simple
when terrorism's alleged or conspiracy to commit it. Most often, juries
won't risk freeing someone perhaps guilty even if not sure. Perhaps
they feel better safe than sorry. They don't know they were duped.
Moreover, when defendants Washington wants framed are exonerated, they
face new charges enough times until convicted.
Bout was a successful businessman. He began from scratch. He operated
legally. His air cargo company transported everything from oil to eggs.
At times, legal weapons as well for clients like America. Among other
destinations, he shipped them to Afghanistan and Iraq. He also worked
with the UN in Sudan.
Earlier, when civil wars wracked Africa, other cargo companies left,
but he stayed. It paid off handsomely until Washington destroyed all
Imperial lawlessness ravages what gets in its way. It's the American
A Final Comment
On April 6, Russia Today reported on Judge Scheindlin's sentencing,
"His defense plans to appeal to the Supreme Court" if necessary. It
won't help. US courts, especially federal ones, are dominated by Federalist
Society judges. When Washington targets someone for conviction, they
Their right-wing agenda includes, rolling back civil liberties; defiling
human rights; ending New Deal social policies; opposing reproductive
choice, government regulations, labor rights, and environmental protections;
as well as subverting justice in defense of privilege.
The Supreme Court won't likely touch Bout's case. At the appellate level
(and High Court if it surprises), hard-right judges will swallow him
whole or chew him up and spit him out unjustly.
That's the reality he faces. His only chance is effective Russian intervention.
Its only chance perhaps is grabbing a valued American, putting him or
her through the same ordeal, then arranging a prisoner swap. It wouldn't
be the first time because it works.
Scheindlin's sentence added five years of supervised release. Bout's
also ordered to forfeit $15 million and pay a $400 special assessment.
Reports are he's broke, so tacking on fines and forfeits may be more
rhetoric than reality.
His US lawyer Albert Dayan and Russian one Viktor Borobin said conviction
didn't end his case. In two weeks or less, they'll appeal to the Second
Circuit Court of Appeals. It'll take months to be heard and months more
for a ruling.
In the meantime, Judge Scheindlin recommended Bout be kept in the general
prison population, not isolation. His treatment's been so harsh and
unjust all along, expect little change now.
Under optimum circumstances, his liberating struggle will be protracted,
painful, and against long odds for success.
Like thousands of others wrongfully imprisoned in America's gulag, he
deserves much better, but won't likely get it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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