Did US Bungle Viktor Bout Extradition?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The US government would very much like to bring Viktor Bout, the alleged arms dealer who inspired the 2005 Nicolas Cage flick Lord of War, to America for trial. A Thai appeals court ordered Bout’s extradition earlier this month, but the US, anticipating a different ruling, sent new charges to Thailand shortly before the decision came down. The new charges meant that if the court had ruled in Bout’s favor, Thailand would still have had to hold on to him while they considered the new charges. But the US seems to have bungled the situation. If they hadn’t sent the new charges, the road to extradition would be mostly clear in the wake of the appeals court’s ruling. Now the US will have to wait until a court hears the new charges. (Even if the US hadn’t made that miscalculation, Bout still might have been able to avoid extradition: On Monday, his lawyer filed a final appeal to the Thai prime minister in a last-ditch effort to stop Bout from being sent to America.)

Mother Jones has been following Bout’s story for years. In 2007, Laura Rozen related the real-life story of the former Soviet military officer who made millions selling weapons to anyone and everyone who could afford them. In March 2008, after the first reports of Bout’s arrest in Thailand, Bruce Falconer reminded readers that the “Merchant of Death” had been among the first to bring supplies into Baghdad after the city fell to invading American armies in 2003. Later that month, Falconer told the full story of the DEA-led sting that captured Bout and brought us to where we are now. That piece was called “Viktor Bout’s Last Deal.” The next few weeks may determine if it really was.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate