Richard Chichakli now 54 years-old was being held in solitary confinement in an Australian prison since his arrest on January 9th 2013 until his eventually extradition to the U.S. on May 24th, 2013. Chichakli is facing charges in a joint indictment in the U.S. over his alleged involvement with Viktor Bout who’s been jailed in the U.S. for 25 years convicted on conspiracy charges. Despite Viktor Bout’s harsh sentence he has strongly maintained his innocence and Chichakli denies working for Bout but proudly boasts of their friendship.
Richard Chichakli is currently being detained at The Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, more commonly known as MDC, Brooklyn. The interview was conducted between Richard and I via the Bureau of Prison’s CorrLinks email communication system.
Richard, Australia to the United States is quite a long journey for anyone. Please describe what your extradition process was like, also if you know, how long did it take and by what mode of transportation did you travel to the United States?
The extradition process on the Australian side was fast. I did not protest the extradition and waived my right for any legal process in Australia. I was ready for extradition in about 15 days; however, the US government waited all the 6 month allowed prior to pick me up. I was arrested Jan/09/2013 and picked up almost 6 month later on May 25th, 2013.
The trip to the United States was horrible, I was not allowed to bring any thing with me not even a jacket, a pants, T-shirt, and my keppah. Throughout the trip I was shackled and handcuffed, no food, no drinks, no bathroom through the 19 hours flight; the worst inhumane treatment you could expect.
Once you arrived in the U.S., how were you treated as a Federal inmate and how were your facilities at the prison or prisons where you have been detained?
On arrival I was delivered to the MCC prison, small prior of seclusion prior to placement at 7-north at MCC, three days later moved to MDC- West building, few days more and again moved to the old East building, and before long moved yet again to the west building. Movement creates undue pressure and that is what the government is trying to achieve by keep moving me around.
Richard, for those readers that may be new to this story, can you please briefly describe the nature of your relationship with Viktor Bout? As well as when and where you first met Viktor Bout?
My relation to Victor is described in detail on my web site; he is a brother and a friend that is all.
The following excerpts are taking directly from my article titled, Exclusive: Richard Chichakli Speaks About the Viktor Bout Trial.
The Richard Chichakli Viktor Bout Connection
Before I share Richards’ comments with you I wanted to first discuss briefly the connection between the two men. What better way than to let Richard do that in his own words? Therefore, all of the following excerpts are taking verbatim form Richard Chichakli’s website from the page titled What connects Richard Chichakli to Viktor Bout. I did, however, take the liberty of merely rearranging some of the paragraphs but not the words.
Richard Chichakli first introduction to Victor Bout took place about 14 years ago, in August of 1995, in the state of Sharjah, one of the seven states in the United Arab Emirates. At that point of time Richard was an employee of the government of Sharjah, serving as the commercial manager of Sharjah Airport International Free Zone and Victor Bout was one of the hundreds of investors who were interested in setting up a business in that free zone.
Richard has always called Victor a “brother and friend” and he is that to Richard, nothing more and nothing less. What was unique in the friendship of these two men is that after the UN [the infamous Johan Peleman] published its report about Victor Bout in 2001 and which led to the financial collapse of Victor Bout, almost all of Victor’s friends abandoned him except for Richard Chichakli. For those who know Richard that would not be surprising because Richard is a descendant of a large Arabian family with history of values and traditions. Richard will not abandon a friend on the basis of “hearsay”, nor will he accept to “hush up” in order to be politically correct. Therefore, he publicly demanded of those using Victor Bout for personal gains to show evidence and corroborate facts, and that was fatal because he was the only one standing in the face of a current.
Richard is not and was not an employee/associate of Victor Bout or any of his companies for any length of time. Richard is not, nor was he ever the chief financial manager of Mr. Bout’s, nor the spokesperson for him or any of his organizations, nor was he ever an officer and/or director of any company belongs to Victor Bout and to which account any amount of money was sent or received for any purpose. It is imperative to understand that Mr. Bout was not sanctioned by the US government until July of 2004, and prior to that date there was not any prohibition to conduct business with him.
——————- Interview continued …
Have you ever worked for, with or were contracted by any U.S. or Russian intelligence agencies? What about Viktor Bout?
Sorry, cannot answer that yet. Those in my military records there are a couple of recommendations from the 311 Military Intelligence and the 902 Counter Intelligence. I also use to be a full-time employee of the US Dept. of Justice; well, and finally I seem to have filed W2s issued by the US Dept. of Agriculture with my tax returns; thus, I never worked for the Dept. of Agriculture. Concerning Victor, it seems that few letters released by the UN and IPIS; and which are available on the internet can help answering your question. More details could also come to light during my court appearance on Sep/27th. That is all I can say about the intelligence.
Richard, it was one of the world’s worst kept secrets that you spent many years living in Moscow. Why did you risk you freedom to go to Australia?
I did not spend that much time in Moscow in reality, perhaps just a year in Total! As to Australia it was about 2.5 years. The rest elsewhere. As to risking freedom; I would not characterize it that way. Australia was in my view a safe bit, far away and I would not be expected to be there.
Did you feel that you were no longer safe in Moscow and if so why?
I never was safe in Moscow, and that is the reason I did not live in Russia. The reason… perhaps later.Have you ever met or transacted any business transactions with former Liberian President, notorious War Lord and former CIA asset, Charles Taylor?
Never knew where is Liberia until I heard about it from OFAC, nor ever heard of its president. Never done business with, about, around, or with any one related to Liberia or its government, past or present, not Taylor nor anyone else.
The elaborate sting operation carried out by the DEA’s Special Operations Division to catch Viktor Bout which was dubbed Operation ‘Relentless’ that spanned over three continents, is estimated to have cost U.S. taxpayer’s several hundred million dollars. In your opinion, what was the real impetus behind this operation?
The matter of Victor Bout is a matter of politics, too many politicians and too much of resources went into the story. The matter also involves Russia as far as I know. Now it is clear that Clinton and Holder had their signature on an invalid document evident and in testimony to the political nature of the matter. The Re-arrest of Victor in Thailand after the refusal of his extradition was a complete fraud by the US government. Evidence will be shown in the federal court on the 27th after a couple of weeks.
Is there anything about you or your case that you would like to tell or share with the world?
Sure, the United States politics should stay outside the court room and should not interfere with justice.
Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions. I realize that you are extremely busy especially since you are representing yourself.