With the Thai appeals court only weeks away from deciding Bout’s fate, this high-profile incident appears to be calculated to influence the judges’ decision.
Walterville, OR/ Bangkok (Vocus) December 22, 2009
On Saturday, December 12, 2009, Thai authorities seized 35 tons of missiles and explosives from an Ilyushin-76 aircraft when it landed at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport en route from Pyongyang, North Korea. The weapons were packed into 140 crates, including surface to air missiles, tube launchers with computerized controls, and rocket-propelled grenades.
In the ensuing media circus in Bangkok, no effort has been spared in attempting to link the seized plane to Victor Bout, the alleged “Merchant of Death,” who is fighting a US extradition request from his Bangkok jail. The US State Department claims that the seized aircraft has previously been registered with three companies identified by the US Treasury Department as being controlled by the notorious Russian arms dealer.
Barely hours after the plane landed and before all facts were known, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a think tank, pointed an accusatory finger at Bout. According to Hugh Griffiths, who monitors air-cargo companies involved in arms trafficking for SIPRI, “The mystery surrounding this aircraft is solved.”
But, “Rather than solving the matter, the facts appear to point to a US-led psychological-warfare operation, apparently designed to influence a myriad of factors. At least that is what is being seen in the spin surgically delivered across the world’s media landscape,” says best-selling investigative author Daniel Estulin. “The SIPRI claim is nothing but an allegation of guilt by the most tenuous of circumstantial evidence.”
Estulin, who has been in Thailand for the last six months finalizing research for his upcoming book, Shadow Masters, has cultivated many official and unofficial contacts involved with the Bout case, including exclusive interviews with Bout himself.
With the Thai appeals court only weeks away from deciding Bout’s fate, this high-profile incident appears to be calculated to influence the judges’ decision, Estulin said. In the two years since Bout’s arrest, the US government has failed to produce any valid evidence against him, as was clearly noted by the Thai Court of First Instance (Black Case no. Por.3/2551).
Intelligence experts consulted in Bangkok by Estulin agree that the operation was timed to sway a final decision against Bout in Thailand’s Courts of Appeal. If the American appeal is granted, Bout will be immediately extradited to the United States to face serious weapons-related charges.
Sources, including a US State Department official, have told Estulin that the impending release of his book, which in part deals with the most sensitive elements of the operation against Victor Bout, has helped spur actions to both influence the Thai court’s decision and discredit the book.
Press Contact: Kris Millegan or Kent Goodman