Wife of Russian businessman Bout convicted in U.S. seeks his extradition

The family of Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who has been sentenced to 25 years in prison in the U.S., has submitted a petition to the Russian Justice Ministry on sending a request to the U.S. for extraditing Bout to his home country, Alla Bout, the businessman's wife, told Interfax on Friday.

The Justice Ministry explained earlier this week that it could send a request to U.S. authorities that Bout be transferred to Russia to serve his sentence at home only after it receives a relevant petition from Bout himself of his representative.

"In order for the Russian Justice Ministry to forward a request to the U.S. related to Viktor Bout, we must have a request submitted by the convict or his representative and a copy of a document certifying Bout's Russian citizenship," the Justice Ministry told Interfax.

The U.S. agency authorized to make decisions on the transfer of convicts is the Department of Justice, the Russian Justice Ministry said.

Bout's transfer could be accomplished under the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, the ministry said. "The Convention does not regulate particular timeframes within which a convict's transfer should be considered, but Paragraph 4 of Article 5 of the Convention obliges the requested state to promptly inform the requesting state of its decision whether or not to agree to the requested transfer," it said.

Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 on a U.S. arrest warrant. He was extradited to the U.S. in November 2010, and was charged with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to kill American officers or employees, and conspiring to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile.

A jury at a U.S. court found Bout guilty of conspiring to sell weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group, in November 2011. The court sentenced him to 25 years in prison and a $15-million fine on April 6, 2012. Bout himself claimed his innocence.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that the U.S. court trying Bout was subjected to unprecedented pressure, and the businessman's lawyers forwarded notification to a New York court on their intention to appeal the verdict.

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office sought milder prison conditions for Bout, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons ultimately ruled that he will serve his sentence at the Marion United States Penitentiary, a medium-security prison in Illinois. The Bureau earlier reportedly planned to send Bout to the maximum-security penitentiary in Florence, Colorado (ADX Florence).

Bout's defense team said it will seek Bout's parole based on the reciprocity principle, citing the pardoning of U.S. citizen Edmond Pope in Russia after he had been sentenced to 20 years in a high security penitentiary for espionage in 2000.

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