Foreign Ministry Protests Violation of Bout's Rights

The Foreign Ministry said Friday that it had summoned Thailand's ambassador to discuss what it called violations of the rights of Viktor Bout, an alleged Russian arms dealer in prison in Thailand.

"The ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand ... was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry and handed a note in connection with violations of the rights of Russian citizen V.A. Bout, who is under arrest in Thailand at the request of the United States," the ministry said in a statement.

The statement did not specify in what way Bout's rights had been violated.

Earlier this week, Bout sent an open letter from a Thai prison, appealing to the Russian government for help in securing his release and saying charges against him were fabricated by the United States government.

"As was stated to [Thai Ambassador] S. Dhirakaosal, Russia's Foreign Ministry believes Thailand's law enforcement bodies will investigate this case objectively and impartially," the ministry statement said.

Bout, a Russian national born in then-Soviet Tajikistan, has been called the "Merchant of Death" by some media.

He was arrested in Thailand last month as part of a U.S. sting operation hours after arriving from Moscow and immediately charged with trying to buy weapons for Colombian rebels.

Bout has repeatedly denied the allegations.

According to the United Nations and the U.S. Treasury Department, Bout ran a network of air cargo companies and sold or brokered arms that have helped fuel wars in Afghanistan, Angola, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

The United States, which has given billions of dollars in military aid to Colombia to fight Marxist rebels and drug cartels, has said it will seek Bout's extradition.

He is charged in New York with conspiring to sell weapons worth millions of dollars to Colombia's FARC guerrillas.