The U.S. attorney general is considering the possibility of extraditing two Russian nationals sentenced in the U.S. to lengthy prison terms for arms and drugs trafficking, the executive director of an international NGO said on Tuesday.
“We learned that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is considering the return of Victor Bout to Russia, along with another Russian arms and drugs trafficker, Konstantin Yaroshenko,” Kathi Lynn Austin, who heads the Conflict Awareness Project, said on the sidelines of the UN Conference of the Arms Trade Treaty in New York.
“Allowing Bout transfer to Russia would pose a risk both to international peace and security as well as U.S. interests,” said Austin, an arms trafficking expert who earlier worked for the UN.
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. Holder 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 Russian Justice Ministry said on Monday it has not yet prepared an extradition request and other documents needed to seek extradition of Bout, a former Soviet Air Force officer found guilty of conspiring to kill U.S. citizens and sell arms to Colombian militants. Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said so far Bout’s extradition is only being discussed at the diplomatic level at the moment.
In late May Russia’s Justice Ministry has applied for the transfer of Russian ex-pilot Yaroshenko, jailed in the U.S. for drug trafficking.