Thailand Denies Bail for Arms Trafficker

Russia will not seek the extradition of suspected Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is wanted by the United States and was arrested in Thailand last week, Interfax reported Tuesday.

"The relevant Russian authorities conducted a thorough probe regarding Bout and determined that law enforcement authorities have no claims against him," a senior official in the Russian security services said, Interfax reported. "There is no criminal case whatsoever against Bout in Russia."

Bout, 41, was arrested last week at a Bangkok luxury hotel after a U.S.-led sting operation. He was charged with conspiracy for trying to smuggle missiles and rocket launchers to a Colombian rebel group that is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

A Thai court denied Bout bail Tuesday, saying it feared the suspect might try to flee the country, his lawyer said.

Bout, also known as "The Merchant of Death," is being held in a Thai prison while authorities investigate whether he used the country as a base to negotiate the deal with terrorists. The Russian denies any wrongdoing and applied for bail Tuesday.

"The court has denied bail," his lawyer, Lak Nitiwatanavichan, said. "The suspect is being detained on severe charges for alleged engagement with international terrorists and the court said if it grants bail the suspect might escape."

Suspects can be held up to 84 days in Thailand without being formally charged.

If convicted, Bout could face 10 years in prison on the Thai charge, and 15 years in the United States, which is seeking Bout's extradition.

A purported associate of Bout's, Andrew Smulian, appeared Monday in a New York City courtroom to face similar charges, prosecutors in New York said. Smulian, who was arrested Friday in New York, did not enter a plea and was held without bail.

To capture Bout, undercover agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration posed as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, seeking to purchase millions of dollars' worth of weapons.

The United States and UN officials have long identified Bout as a weapons smuggler whose alleged list of customers included former dictator Charles Taylor of Liberia, the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and both sides of the civil war in Angola.

Bout also reportedly supplied arms to warring parties in Afghanistan before the 2001 fall of the Taliban's Islamic regime.