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Extradition vs. Rendition: What do Kim Dotcom and Viktor Bout have in common?

 

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Kim Dotcom

I am guessing that many readers are asking what possibly could MEGA founder and New Zealand entrepreneur Kim Dotcom have in common with Russian air transporter and businessman Viktor Bout dubbed by some as ‘The Merchant of Death’ who is currently serving a 25 year sentence in the US for a barrage of conspiracy charges? Before I answer that question, let me first back up and make sure that all of my readers are familiar with both Kim Dotcom and Viktor Bout.

A Brief Overview of Kim Dotcom

The following excerpts are from an article titled Extraditing Kim Dotcom – OpEd written by Binoy Kampmark on  December 29, 2015.

“Dotcom’s claim to notoriety lies in being the main figure behind the online storage locker Megaupload, a creation that consumed more bandwidth than either Dropbox or Box. It was an operation that generated $175m in what are claimed by US prosecutors to be illegal profits. According to those authorities, the downloads of pirated movies and music through the site in its heyday generated 4 percent of global internet traffic.

His arrest in January 2012, along with associates Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, and Finn Batato, demonstrated how the US state prioritizes economic interest. Most terrorist suspects, actual or otherwise, get the drone treatment, airstrikes and the like. Dotcom got dozens of agents, some heavily armed, and two police helicopters. As Wired noted in perplexed wonder, it was the sort of “paramilitary assault reserved for drug lords, murderers, and terrorists, not copyright infringers.” The seizure covered 18 luxury vehicles, 150 terabytes of data, and NZ$11 million in cash.

His special treatment was further highlighted by the bugging exploits of the New Zealand intelligence services, the Government Communications Security Bureau, something for which the country’s prime minister found himself apologising over.

In September 2012, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Paul Neazor, found that the GCSB exploits had been illegal, having relied on incorrect police information about Dotcom’s residency status. Instead of taking this to heart and preventing a repeat of such behaviour, Prime Minister John Key pressed ahead with seeking to enlarge GCSB’s powers to spy on New Zealanders to ostensibly to prevent cybercrime.”

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“On Tuesday [December 22nd 2015], a New Zealand district court claimed that Dotcom could be extradited to the United States to stand trial for money laundering, copyright infringement, racketeering and wire fraud facilitated via the file-sharing service. The US indictment comprised 13 counts in total, a strategy that was developed because copyright infringement alone is a non-extraditable offence between NZ and the US. The defendants had, it was contended, been members of “a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering of a massive scale”.

It is claimed that the value lost in terms of copyright violation was “in excess of $500 million,” covering movies, music, television programs, electronic books, and entertainment software.[6] Such content, as the indictment outlines, “is not searchable on the website, which allows the Mega Conspiracy to conceal the scope of its infringement.”

This is by no means it for the Dotcom team. The extradition ruling can be appealed, and one of the defence attorneys responsible for the case, Ira Rothken, suggested that the ruling on the US request for extradition will be reviewed in the High Court. Rothken’s broader feeling here is that ISP copyright safe harbour rules have been rendered a fiction. “Justice was not served today.”12476440_10154442238504746_1140736635_n

Several hours ago I ran across an article that was printed yesterday that officially stated that Kim Dotcom and his lawyers will appeal New Zealand’s recent extradition hearing. The Truth In Media article is titled, Kim Dotcom Lawyers Appealing Extradition Decision. Here are a couple of excerpts from that recent article:

“Kim Dotcom is appealing a recent decision which will allow U.S. authorities to extradite the popular file-sharing icon from his homeland of New Zealand.

Legality of Extradition

The case of Kim Dotcom and his co-conspirators has sparked an important discussion on whether or not the United States has the right to extradite a man for violating the laws of a nation he has never even visited. When one violates the laws of a foreign nation via the internet can they legally be held responsible? And with what nation and law enforcement agency does the responsibility lie?”

I will talk in more detail about the legality of Kim Dotcom’s extradition below in the section titled, Extradition vs. Rendition.

What really got me thinking about a comparison about Kim Dotcom and Viktor Bout was a pinned tweet on Dotcom’s Twitter feed. He tweeted an article titled How The US Government Legally Stole Millions From Kim Dotcom. However, preceding the tweet, Dotcom wrote: “I never lived there, I never traveled there, I had no company there … But all I worked for now belongs to the U.S.”

I covered Viktor Bout’s case extensively from the courts of Thailand where I first met him face-face and after his extradition from Thailand to the US we met again face-face. This time in a U.S. Federal prison during his lengthy trial that he eventually lost. Viktor and I still communicate regularly via the Federal Bureau of Prison’s email system dubbed CorrLinks.

A Brief Overview of Viktor Bout

The following excerpts were taking directly from Wikipedia:

“Viktor Anatolyevich Bout (Russian: Виктор Анатольевич Бут; born 13 January 1967) is a Russian arms dealer. He was arrested in Thailand in 2008 before being extradited in 2010 to the United States to stand trial on terrorism charges after having been accused of intending to smuggle arms to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to use against U.S. forces. On 2 November 2011, he was convicted by a jury in a Manhattan federal court of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and officials, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, and providing aid to a terrorist organization. A former Soviet military translator, Bout had reportedly made a significant amount of money through his multiple air transport companies, which shipped cargo mostly in Africa and the Middle East during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Bout says he has done little more than provide logistics, but former British Foreign Office minister Peter Hain called Bout a “sanctions buster” and described him as “the principal conduit for planes and supply routes that take arms from east Europe, principally Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine, to Liberia and Angola”. In cooperation with American authorities, Royal Thai Police arrested Bout in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2008. The United States ambassador requested his extradition under the Extradition Act between the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States, which was eventually mandated by the Thai High Court in August 2010. Before his extradition to the United States in November 2010, he expressed confidence that this U.S. trial would eventually lead to his acquittal but this did not occur. From January 2011 to June 2012 Bout was incarcerated in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York City.[citation needed] Following his conviction, he was sentenced on 5 April 2012 to 25 years imprisonment by a U.S. judge. In June 2012 he was transferred to the United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois.”

Viktor Bout being led off the plane by DEA agents in White Plains, NY February 2010.

Viktor Bout being led off the plane by DEA agents in White Plains, NY February 2010.

Arrest

The Royal Thai Police arrested Bout in Bangkok on 6 March 2008, the culmination of a sting operation [dubbed Operation Relentless] set up by Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Bout allegedly offered to supply weapons to people he thought were representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels.

Extradition hearing

After months of delay, the Criminal Court in Bangkok began an extradition hearing for Bout on 22 September 2008. In February 2009, members of the United States Congress signed a letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretary of State Clinton, expressing their wish that the Bout extradition “remain a top priority”.

On 11 August 2009, the Criminal Court ruled in his favor, denying the United States’ request for extradition and citing the political, not criminal, nature of the case.

The United States appealed that ruling. On 20 August 2010, a higher court in Thailand ruled that Bout could, in fact, be extradited to the United States.

Extradition

Viktor Bout in the custody of DEA agents on 16 November 2010 after being extradited to the United States On 16 November 2010 at 1:30 pm, Bout was extradited to the United States; the Russian government called the extradition illegal.”

A Re-examination of Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout’s wife, Alla Bout, along with many others described the sudden extradition as a “kidnapping.” Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen described it as Bout being “renditioned” by the DEA.

I have written extensively about Viktor Bout’s case. I also attending several of his court hearings in Thailand as well the entire trial in the U.S. which lasted approximately 3 weeks. I have done exhaustive research as well as having conducted several dozen interviews and meetings. I have met several times with Viktor Bout in MDC Federal prison in Brooklyn. I have met with and spoken to at length his daughter, his wife, friends, associates, lawyers etc. Thus his case is anything but black & white and straightforward. It is very complex, unique and alas stranger than fiction.

Viktor Bout according to Thai law would have been set free on November 20 2010. The Thai court had imposed a deadline for Viktor Bout’s extradition which happened only four days before the deadline.

Alla Bout talking to the press on Monday 31, 2011 outside the court house.

Alla Bout talking to the press on Monday 31, 2011 outside the court house.

Here is an excerpt from my article titled Imaginary Crimes: The Never Ending Viktor Bout Story:

Viktor Bout Whisked Away

“On Tuesday morning, 16 November 2010, Viktor Bout’s wife, Alla, received a most disturbing and completely unexpected phone call. She was informed that her husband Viktor was being extradited to the U.S. imminently. This phone call came to her before she was able to prepare and bring Viktor’s vegetarian lunch and visit him in prison, both of which she did routinely on a daily basis. After receiving the horrifying news, according to an article in the Guardian published that same day, “Alla rushed to the prison with his [Bout’s] lawyer when she heard her husband was about to be deported but did not get to see him.”

I have stressed these points because so much disinformation, unsubstantiated rumors, misconceptions and in some instances propaganda and outright lies have been printed about Viktor Bout. The trouble today is that so many people, including so-called professional journalists will see something in print and parrot it back out with out any fact checks or research. I’ll elaborate with a couple of examples.

There was a book written about Viktor Bout by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun which is titled, Merchant of Death Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible. It is important to note that neither Braun nor Farah, [both journalists] have ever met with, spoken to, interviewed either in person or via email or had any direct interaction with Viktor Bout. I have not read the entire book, however, several journalists have challenged and questioned many unproven allegations written about Bout. Some have even labeled their book as propaganda. Here are a few excerpts about Farah and Braun’s book taken from Amazon:

“Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun are two of the toughest investigative reporters in the country. This is an important book about a hidden world of gunrunning and profiteering in some of the world’s poorest countries.”
—Steve Coll.

“A riveting investigation of the world’s most notorious arms dealer–a page-turner that digs deep into the amazing, murky story of Viktor Bout. Farah and Braun have exposed the inner workings of one of the world’s most secretive businesses–the international arms trade.”
—Peter L. Bergen

Andrew Smulian, right, with Viktor Bout in Red Square in Moscow.

Andrew Smulian, right, with Viktor Bout in Red Square in Moscow.

I think an extremely important fact that is widely unknown or overlooked by many, is that if it were not for one particular key witness, the prosecutions case against Viktor Bout would have been unsuccessful. Viktor Bout would NOT be in prison if it were not for a former acquaintance, Andrew Smulian, who eventually became a DEA informant. Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article titled Conduit to Arms Sting, a Star Witness Apologizes for His Crimes written about Andrew Smulian:

So, that day in March 2008, when Mr. Bout and Mr. Smulian were arrested in Thailand, Mr. Smulian decided to switch sides. Over the past four years, he has cooperated with the authorities against Mr. Bout, meeting regularly with prosecutors and agents, and pleading guilty to supporting terrorism, among other charges.

Viktor Bout and many close to him claim that Smulian was already a DEA informant before and during the sting operation. If Bout’s lawyer was able to prove this during the trial, then the case would have been dismissed due to entrapment. The judge explained during the verdict in her directions to the jury that a conspiracy with a DEA agent and / or a DEA informant is by law not a conspiracy.

Here are a few more excerpts from the above referenced New York Times article:

“A prosecutor, Anjan Sahni, said Mr. Smulian’s cooperation “was indeed critical” in helping to refute Mr. Bout’s defense.

“His testimony was consistently careful and precise.”

Mr. Smulian’s plea agreement states that if deemed necessary, prosecutors would takes steps to protect him and his family after his release from prison, including possibly applying for his entry into the witness protection program.”

Mr. Smulian was released from Federal prison approximately 100 days after the date of Bout’s sentencing on April 5th 2012. Viktor Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined $15 million. Smulian is believed to be in the Federal witness protection program often referred to as WitSec.

Another example often mentioned in the media that has never been substantiated is that Viktor Bout transported arms and weapons for Liberia’s former notorious War Lord, Charles Taylor. There is no proof or evidence in existence that can prove these allegations. In fact, Viktor Bout flat out denied these allegations in an interview that I conducted with him. In my interview titled, World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout, he claims that he never met nor dealt with Charles Taylor:

[Mapp] The former CIA asset and Liberian war Lord Charles Taylor has been linked to you by various publications. Have you ever met or done business with Taylor?

[Bout] I never meet C.Taylor, and never had any dealings with his regimes!!!

Yes, for those of you who did not know, it was confirmed via a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request that Charles Taylor was indeed a CIA asset according to an article via the BBC, titled Charles Taylor ‘worked’ for CIA in Liberia. Here are a few excerpts:

“US authorities say former Liberian leader Charles Taylor worked for its intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Boston Globe reports.

A Globe reporter told the BBC this is the first official confirmation of long-held reports of a relationship between US intelligence and Mr Taylor.

Rumours of CIA ties were fuelled in July 2009 when Mr Taylor himself told his trial, at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague, that US agents had helped him escape from a maximum security prison in Boston in 1985.

The CIA at the time denied such claims as “completely absurd.”

Charles Taylor escaped from a US prison in 1985 and some analysts believe the CIA helped with the prison break [EPA]

Charles Taylor escaped from a US prison in 1985 and some analysts believe the CIA helped with the prison break [EPA]

So, we have Farah and Braun [two of toughest investigative reporters in the country] write a book about Bout whom they never met nor interviewed, as well as Bout denying he ever met Charles Taylor let alone work with him or for him. But the CIA said that claims that Taylor worked for them were “absurd” but were later proven to be true. However, it is not surprising nor unusual for the CIA to give the Glomar response or a flat out denial when questioned about any foreign arm supplying missions.

To Farah and Braun’s credit, they did discuss Bout’s dealings with the U.S. government in their book. Here are a couple more excerpts from the above Amazon link:

“Even more appalling, they show how Bout ended up getting millions of dollars in U.S. government money to assist the war in Iraq.”

“An extraordinary and timely piece of investigative reporting, Merchant of Death is also a vividly compelling read. The true story of Viktor Bout, a sociopathic Russian gunrunner who has supplied weapons for use in some of the most gruesome conflicts of modern times–and who can count amongst his clients both the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the U.S. military in Iraq--is a stomach-churning indictment of the policy failures and moral contradictions of the world’s most powerful governments, including that of the United States.”

Viktor Bout has been called an arms dealer, an arms transporter and even a business man by none other than the Honorable Judge Shira Scheindlin whom is the U.S. Federal judge that presided over his case and sentenced him. I was in the courtroom when she said that. Here it is from an article in The New Yorker written by Nicolas Schmidle titled, Sentencing Viktor Bout:

“Bout, she said [Judge Scheindlin], is a “businessman”: “You may not like the business he is in—but he is a businessman.”

However, the elaborate sting operation dubbed Operation Relentless, conducted by the DEA’s Special Operation Division [SOD] did not result in a conviction of arms dealing. Viktor Bout is now serving a 25 year sentence in Marion, IL. for conspiracy and terrorism charges not arms dealing nor arms transporting.

It is worth noting that according to a recent article by The Free Thought Project titled, Deadly U.S. Hypocrisy Exposed as World’s Biggest Arms Dealer Moves to Limit America’s Access to Guns that the U.S. is again ranked number one in arms sales. Here are a few excerpts:

The American defense industry is the undisputed champion of the global arms market, as the U.S. exported over $36.2 billion in weaponry in 2014, accounting for over 60 percent of the total arms sold worldwide, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. 

“Just 5 years ago, the Obama administration secured the largest arms sale in the history of the world when he sold $60 billion in weapons to a country who beheads more people than ISIS, Saudi Arabia.”

Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom

Extradition vs. Rendition

It was attorney Douglas McNabb that first brought to my attention a very important and significant legal precedent that was extremely relevant in the trial of Viktor Bout. Douglas McNabb is an International Criminal Lawyer specializing in Transnational Criminal Defense with one of his areas of expertise is in extradition defense. At first glance to those familiar with the Viktor Bout extradition it would appear that he was indeed kidnapped or as journalist Wayne Madsen said “renditioned.” It was not until McNabb showed and explained to me the Supreme Court ruling titled, United States v. Alvarez-Machain that both including abduction are legal under U.S. law. It is almost irrelevant how Bout wound up in the U.S., once he is here within the U.S. jurisdiction, he can be tried in a court of law. Bout’s attorney Albert Dayan argued in pre-trial hearings that Bout’s case should be thrown out because he was brought to the U.S. illegally, judge Scheindlin would have none of it according to a Tass article:

Over the past few months Scheindlin has rejected all appeals filed by the previous and current team of lawyers of the Russian who tried to challenge the legality of his extradition to the United States and the so-called extraterritorial jurisdiction to which the US authorities have very often resorted in recent years.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen.

According to the Guardian, the Russian Foreign Minister called Bout’s extradition illegal:

“It [Russia] has questioned the US claim of jurisdiction given that he is not an American citizen and is not alleged to have committed crimes on US soil.

“Undoubtedly, the illegal extradition of Bout is a result of the unprecedented political pressure on the Thai government and the judicial authorities by the United States,” said Russia’s foreign ministry.”

What I learned from McNabb is that it is ALL about jurisdiction! The how, why or whom brought you into the legal jurisdiction of the US does not appear to play a role into the trial, at least according to the United States v. Alvarez-Machain. Lets take a closer look:

“United States v. Alvarez-Machain, (1992), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the fact of respondent’s forcible abduction does not prohibit his trial in a United States court for violations of this country’s criminal laws. It re-confirmed the Ker-Frisbie Doctrine established in Ker v. Illinois (1886) and Frisbie v. Collins (1952).”

“Humberto Álvarez Machaín, a Mexican physician, was allegedly involved in the 1985 kidnapping, torture, and murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena Salazar by “prolonging Agent Camarena’s life so that others could further torture and interrogate him.” On April 2, 1990, Álvarez was abducted from Mexico by Trent Tompkins of Claysville, PA, a private citizen hired by DEA agents, and brought to trial in the United States over the protest of Mexican officials. Legal action reached the United States Supreme Court (as above) focusing upon the effect of illegal extradition upon the trial court’s jurisdiction. Invoking the “Ker-Frisbie Doctrine” the U.S. Supreme Court held that the trial court’s jurisdiction was not affected by the manner in which the accused was brought before it. This created international alarm and concern as other nations feared that the decision would encourage further such abductions.”

Viktor Bout boarding the plane at Don Muang airport.

Viktor Bout boarding the plane at Don Muang airport.

The DEA has been criticized many times over the years and have even been accused of staging trials. A very in-depth article examines some of these claims. It was written recently by Ginger Thompson for Pro-Publica titled, The Narco-terror Trap The DEA warns that drugs are funding terror. An examination of cases raises questions about whether the agency is stopping threats or staging them.  As Wayne Madsen noted, the DEA has branched out from drugs into intelligence gathering and terrorism — all over the world. According to the DEA’s website, they now have 86 foreign offices in 67 countries. The DEA agents that ran Operation Relentless which led to Bout’s eventually conviction were from the elite tactical division, named the Special Operations Division or SOD.

This is how a Reuters 2013 article describes the DEA’s SOD:

THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION

“The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.”

Here is an excerpt from an article that quotes Viktor Bout’s judge as well as discuses the DEA’s SOD. It was a Time article titled, The DEA’s Terrorist Hunters: Overreaching Their Authority?

Prosecutors in the Bout case faced vocal criticism on this issue not just from the defense, but also the judge. In Bout’s case, he went to a Bangkok hotel to meet with DEA informants who represented themselves as FARC operatives wishing to purchase weapons to be used against Americans. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin accused the government of “bravado” in making its case to prosecute the Russian citizen in the US. “There’s a long line of cases where we look at the facts of each case,” she said. “This one is weak.”

More Extraditions

Another point worth noting is that Richard Chichakli, Bout’s alleged co-conspirator was also extradited. Chichakli was arrested in Australia and then extradited to the U.S. at the request of U.S. authorities. I was contacted directly by Chichakli’s wife about his pending extradition. Chichakli unlike Bout and Dotcom is a U.S. citizen but was labeled a fugitive by the U.S. government. Here is an excerpt from an article that I wrote titled Richard Chichakli’s Extradition to the US is Imminent:

Richard Chichakli now 53 years-old has been held in solitary confinement in an Australian prison since his arrest on 10 January 2013 last month and he is currently awaiting possible extradition to the United States. Chichakli is facing charges in a joint indictment in the US over his alleged involvement with Viktor Bout who’s been jailed in the US 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 was eventually extradited at the end of May 2013 to the U.S. where he fought his own legal case pro-se tooth and nail to no avail. Chichakli was sentenced to five years on December 4th 2014 also on conspiracy charges. Here a couple of excerpts from a Guardian article titled, Associate of arms dealer Viktor Bout gets five years’ jail for conspiracy:

“District Judge William H. Pauley said Chichakli’s time in custody had failed to clarify exactly who he is.

“Mr Chichakli continues to remain shrouded in mystery,” the judge said, noting that his passports were “so filled with immigration stamps that they looked like a sheet of Rachmaninoff’s music.”

The judge noted Chichakli had considerable intelligence and had done a credible job of representing himself at trial.

The judge noted Chichakli had become “involved with Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer” and had told the jury that Bout was his friend.

Chichakli said in 2010 he had never worked for Bout though they discussed business deals that never came to fruition. Pauley said the case against Chichakli was not connected to the charges that resulted in Bout’s conviction.”

Richard Chichakli holding documents.

Richard Chichakli holding documents.

Ironically, for several years Chichakli lived safely and openly in Moscow, Russia. Even though I have met with Chichakli several times in the exact same Federal prison, MDC in Brooklyn, that housed Viktor Bout, I still do not have a clear answer as to why he left Russia to go to Australia. I do know that he had become more antsy and worried in Russia through various conversations that we had. Chichakli stated that his flat was broken into in Moscow and he blamed the CIA.

I can not discuss extradition and not mention Edward Snowden whom is currently living in Russia under asylum. Snowden was holed up in the transit section of Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow for 40 days. He was rumored to be hunting for ‘safe’ countries to flee that were safe or were safest from U.S. extradition. I missed Snowden by less than 10 days in the exact same airport in the exact same transit zone. Luckily I was only there for slightly over 12 hours on transit to Bangkok, Thailand. Snowden was a U.S. citizen but shortly after the whistleblowers identity was known, the U.S. State Dept. revoked his U.S. passport. Snowden like Chichakli was also labeled a fugitive by U.S. authorities. Revoking Snowden’s passport later backfired, Russian authorities later said that he can not travel legally without proper documents.

I think it is notable to discuss the extreme pressure that the U.S. exerted on other countries and in some cases threats to any country that it thought might accept Snowden into asylum. In order to save time, I will just list a few articles and their links. I think the that the titles in themselves are very telling:

US pressured Norway to arrest & extradite Snowden, seize all devices – documents

Snowden Runs: Where Can Americans Avoid Extradition? Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and Russia infrequently extradite U.S. fugitives.

US aggressively threatened to ‘cut off’ Germany over Snowden asylum – report

Report: Snowden’s US passport revoked

Assange: US decision to cancel Snowden’s passport is a ‘disgrace’

Russia to U.S.: Edward Snowden extradition request ‘unacceptable’

More than 900 fugitives were extradited to the U.S. last year. Here’s where they were hiding

Bolivia: Presidential plane forced to land after false rumors of Snowden onboard

10 Dec 2012, Guatemala City, Guatemala --- ATTENTION EDITORS: FACES MASKED AT SOURCE Horst Walter Overdick Mejia (2nd L), also known as El Tigre, is escorted for his extradition by DEA agents at an air force base in Guatemala City, December 10, 2012. According the United States Embassy in Guatemala, Mejia was extradited to the U.S. to face charges in New York for distribution of a controlled substance. Mejia is also accused of having ties to Los Zetas, a Mexican drug gang. REUTERS/UNITED STATES EMBASSY OF GUATEMALA/Handout (GUATEMALA - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS DRUGS SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS --- Image by © HANDOUT/Reuters/Corbis

10 Dec 2012, Guatemala City, Guatemala — Image by © HANDOUT/Reuters/Corbis

Viktor Bout was just one example of many, especially in recent years, of a Russian citizen being whisked away and extradited from a third country to the U.S. In one example, the Russian government was not even contacted until after Konstantin Yaroshenko was in a U.S. prison. Coincidentally, Yaroshenko was arrested and extradited exactly the same time Viktor Bout was being tried in New York. Here are a few excerpts from an article titled, US violated law in case against Russian pilot – lawyers:

“On May 28, the pilot was detained by American Special Forces [DEA] in a hotel in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. His lawyers say he was secretly transferred to the US. Yaroshenko claims that following his arrest he was beaten and tortured. Three days after his “abduction”, he was taken to an airport and put onboard a plane, without being informed of the flight’s destination. He was only told of his whereabouts some time later, when he was in the U.S.

Yaroshenko’s lawyers claim that his extradition from Liberia was illegal as the US government had not filed an extradition request to the African country’s authorities.

They also claim the US side violated international law when taking the Russian national to America by force and not informing Moscow of his arrest. Washington later apologized for failing to promptly provide notice about the details of the case.”

Extraditions of Russian citizens has become so commonplace that their government has warned its citizens about being careful to travel to countries that have extradition agreements with the U.S. A New York Times article titled, Russia Issues Travel Warning to Its Citizens About United States and Extradition states the following:

“The Russian Foreign Ministry posted advice of a somewhat different nature on Monday, cautioning people wanted by the United States not to visit nations that have an extradition treaty with it. “Warning for Russian citizens traveling internationally,” the Foreign Ministry bulletin said. “Recently, detentions of Russian citizens in various countries, at the request of American law enforcement, have become more frequent — with the goal of extradition and legal prosecution in the United States.”

Extradition has frequently been a contentious issue between Russia and the United States, but the disagreements have been particularly sharp in recent months over the case of Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who is wanted on criminal espionage charges but has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.

In response to the demands by the Obama administration for Mr. Snowden’s return, Russian officials have said the United States has routinely ignored extradition requests from Russia. Russia has also complained about the arrests of Russian citizens by the United States or by other countries at the Americans’ request.”

Edward Snowen

Edward Snowden

Here are the titles and links of a couple of more articles that shows Russia’s lost patience concerning its citizens being extradited to the United States:

Moscow rips into ‘vicious practice’ of extraditing Russian nationals to US

‘US hunts for Russians’: Moscow warns citizens traveling abroad

Earlier in the article while discussing Kim Dotcom, there was some question as to the legality of his potential extradition. Here are a couple of excerpts from an article titled, Extradition, Jurisdiction and Kim Dotcom:

But the case has raised an interesting question. Even those who despise Kim Dotcom struggle to understand how someone who is not from the United States, has never visited the country and has no businesses registered in the country can be extradited to it.

“More importantly though, courts in both the U.S. and now New Zealand have ruled that these servers provide sufficient contact with the U.S. to give it jurisdiction over the criminal case. While jurisdiction alone doesn’t mean a person can be extradited, it’s a crucial step and this also explains why a man who never set foot in the U.S. can be extradited to it for a crime committed online.

While it is true that Dotcom is not a U.S. citizen, has never travelled to the country and didn’t register his businesses there, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have sufficient contact with the country to establish jurisdiction.”

Let me first state that I am not a lawyer nor do I have a law degree. I have learned a great deal from spending many hours in court rooms. Listening to the experienced Federal judges and their directions, listening to many of the top prosecutors in the world, defense attorney’s, gripes, questions, and concerns from jurors, listening to DEA, FBI, and several other intelligence agency officers testifying, hearing representatives from OFAC, the White House, journalists from ALL over the world, etc has been an invaluable education.

I do not know much about copyright infringement and file sharing as it pertains to the law. I do understand that the world of technology is changing at a much faster pace than the laws that govern them. I have not spoken directly to Kim Dotcom nor have I yet had an opportunity to meet him face-face. I have contacted him via email.

The stark difference between Kim Dotcom and Viktor Bout is that Dotcom is very actively and publicly fighting his case and from what I can gather has much more money than Viktor Bout had for his defense. That is extremely important, money equals better and more lawyers. Right now one of the biggest fights the U.S. intelligence agencies are having with companies world-wide is “encryption”. If you do not believe me, ask Ladar Levison about his former company named Lavabit. Here is some background if you are not familiar with his case:

Secrets, lies and Snowden’s email: why I was forced to shut down Lavabit

Also Twitter, FaceBook, Apple and many other tech companies are fighting for more security and the US intelligence agencies want more access and less encryption. Kim Dotcom is in the forefront of encryption and I think that it has a lot of spooks well spooked. The New Zealand Prime Minister apologized to Kim Dotcom for an illegal spying operation from their own intelligence agencies.

Having established that I am not a legal expert, the fact remains that New Zealand’s GCSB illegally spied on Kim Dotcom, the New Zealand government raided his home in an anti-terror commando style, the FBI has seized 18 luxury vehicles, 150 terabytes of data, and NZ$11 million in cash. The US government has maintained that Dotcom and several associates have committed criminal charges against the U.S. And less than two weeks ago the New Zealand courts ruled that Dotcom can be extradited to the US – which as I stated previously is being challenged and appealed.

I will conclude this section with an example where India begged the U.S. again and again to extradite someone guilty of committing crimes on their soil but the U.S. has continuously refused. David Headley is a Pakistani-American whom plead guilty to masterminding the horrific Mumbai terrorist attacks in India on November 26, 2008 which left over 160 dead, including 6 Americans and over 300 injured. Here is an article from December 2015, India to press U.S. for Headley’s extradition and another article on the same topic from December 2009, India to ask for David Headley’s extradition after US trial.

I wrote extensively about this case and have been intimately involved via my relationship with Headley’s wife Faiza Outalha. I strongly recommend  to anyone interested in this fascinating case to read my article titled, India’s NIA to US: Give Us American Terrorist David Headley Or Else

Viktor Bout and Kim Dotcom

The most striking resemblance between Viktor Bout and Kim Dotcom cases is that they are both extremely complex, high-profile and involve extradition. And a few more similarities. Viktor Bout like Kim Dotcom has never lived there [US], never traveled there [until his extradition], and he had no company there. Viktor Bout is broke and spent his last dollars on attorney fees, in addition when he is released in 2030, he still owes the U.S. government $15 million for fines imposed by the courts. One could also say that all that he worked for now belongs to the U.S.

Further Reading:

US journalist says CIA Director’s visit to Ukraine perfectly logical

Ukraine Scenario Has CIA Modus Operandi Written All Over It

The Accidental Terrorist: George Mapp Recounts His Entanglement in the 26/11 Mumbai Massacre

India’s NIA to US: Give Us American Terrorist David Headley Or Else

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars

Was Viktor Bout’s sentence just?

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

Contact Information:

Twitter: Dobroyeutro

gmappjr@gmail.com

Is The Hit Spy Drama ‘The Americans’ Too Realistic For Viktor Bout To Watch?

Stars of the Americans, Keri Russell left & Matthew Rhys right. Photo Credit: The Americans Face Book page.

Stars of the Americans, Keri Russell left & Matthew Rhys right.

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout was sentenced on Thursday afternoon April 5th, 2012 to 25 years for terrorism related charges by a DEA sting operation dubbed Operation ‘Relentless’. I was present that day in the court room as well as during the entire three week trial. In fact, I first met and began covering Bout’s trial several years prior in Thailand. Today just moments ago accused CIA leaker Jeffrey Sterling was convicted of espionage. However, Sterling’s trial was much shorter than Viktor Bout’s trial.

I was also the first person to speak with and share the jury’s verdict to Viktors’ wife, Alla. It was not a pleasant experience but one that I will surely never forget. I wrote about that day extensively in my article titled, Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars.

Viktor Bout in Marion, IL Federal Penitentiary -- taken October 2012

Viktor Bout in Marion, IL Federal Penitentiary — taken October 2012

On occasion I have sent Viktor post cards, calendars and several books in prison. We also exchange emails via the U.S. Bureau of Prison’s [BOP] system named CorrLinks. CorrLinks even has an app which is very easy to use for family, friends, journalists’ and attorney’s to help keep in touch with inmates.  Just to be clear, Viktor Bout does not have access to email or internet, just the prison email system which requires an invite and approval and is obviously monitored. Viktor is actually in Marion, IL in a very tightly restricted unit called CMU. CMU stands for Communication Monitored Unit. For read my interview with Viktor titled, World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout. Let me jump ahead of myself and discuss briefly the hit show ‘The Americans’ and bit of background before I explain how that relates to Viktor Bout.

The Americans

Recently there has been a plethora of articles about ‘The Americans’, their creators and of course their actors in the press. This is not unusual given the huge success of the series and especially the fact that long-awaited 3rd season premiere is this coming Wednesday. Also some of the main stars of the series which include Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich, and last but not least the sexy, sultry and talented Annet Mahendru.

Annet Mahendru stars as the Russian KGB agent in The Americans.

Annet Mahendru stars as the Russian KGB agent in The Americans.

An article that I read last year in The Telegraph titled, Matthew Rhys interview for The Americans: ‘Our scripts go to the CIA for approval’ has been rehashed by several publications in recent weeks. In the article Rhys says:

“But all the scripts for our show go to the CIA,” Rhys adds. “They have to, for approval.” This seems to be part of Weisberg’s deal with his former employers. He tells me that he avoided “writing a word about intelligence for about a decade after I left the Agency..” When he eventually wrote The Americans, that was only the beginning of the hard work.

Now the fact that the show deals with intelligence, national security and espionage issues between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union is not why each episode needs to be vetted by the ‘Agency’. The reason is that the shows creator, Joe Weisberg, worked for the CIA or as insiders like to call it, ‘The Company’.

Joe Weisberg, former CIA officer and creator of The Americans.

Joe Weisberg, former CIA officer and creator of The Americans.

Another excerpt from the above mentioned Telegraph article:

Weisberg likes to tell the story of being vetted for the CIA, a process that is, says Rhys, about two years long. “Joe got to the final polygraph test. And one of the last questions from the profiler is: are you interested in joining the CIA in order to gain information to write about it fictionally or otherwise afterwards?”

Weisberg was already an amateur writer, but genuinely hadn’t thought of that. “And in that moment,” continues Rhys, “he went, ‘oh, brilliant idea!’

Then he went, ‘argh!’ His heart started going and he started panicking and he thought he might fail the polygraph because he now had that thought. But he passed it, and he got in, then served his time.

Matthew Rhys.

Matthew Rhys.

Another article that appeared just under a year ago was titled, ‘The Americans’ – FX Network Hit, CIA PR Tool. In the artcile, Weisberg discusses the close relationship and cooperation that he has with the ‘Agency’:

The CIA has bent over backwards to cooperate with FX. Weisberg said the agency usually requires a month to review material, but expedites that process for him because of tight deadlines for the weekly program.

The article then goes on to mention that:

The Americans begins its second season on Feb. 26 [2014].

The CIA will be watching and I will, too.

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Weisberg has been in the press a lot as of late. He has been mentioned, interviewed or referenced to quite a bit in the last couple of weeks. In fact, Weisberg was written about today in The Washington Post in an articled titled, How did the ex-CIA officer who created ‘The Americans’ get his start?

The following excerpt is taken from The Washington Post article mention above:

The place in Brooklyn looks like a CIA safehouse. Red brick office building with peeling metal awning. No sign. Inside, writers are plotting out the popular Cold War espionage show The Americans – one of an assortment of Hollywood spy or national security dramas being driven by ex-spies.

The show’s creator and co-head writer Joe Weisberg is a former CIA officer who never fathomed he would one day sit in an office with Soviet propaganda posters and a cut-out figure of President Ronald Reagan, concocting television fiction.

Viktor Bout Denied Access To The Americans DVD By The Federal Bureau of Prisons

I mentioned previously about Viktor Bout being in the Communication Monitored Unit. Therefore, all his communications are tightly monitored. Often when we exchange messages we will write the date and time that we completed the message to help us keep track of the time delays. The time lag varies to anywhere from 1-3 days on each end. By contrast when I write Bout’s alleged partner Richard Chichakli and I exchange messages, we often can communicate with each other the same day, thus a very small time-delay.

Viktor Bout in Marion, IL Federal Penitentiary -- taken October 2012

Viktor Bout in Marion, IL Federal Penitentiary — taken October 2012

As far as I understand, all persons requesting to visit Viktor Bout in Marion, IL [including his wife and myself] with the exception of lawyers have all been denied permission to visit him. When he was in MDC in Brooklyn, NY I had several contact visits with him. Also, I have had several CorrLink messages bounced back and rejected due to security, at least that is what the BOP replied.

I remember Viktor telling me about watching the documentary used with his own personal home video footage. The documentary was about Viktor and is titled, The Notorious Mr Bout. Viktor expressed his displeasure with the end result in a message to me. Besides receiving reading material what Viktor enjoys most are the jokes that I send him. Around the same time that Viktor told me that he had finally seen his documentary about him, I was ordering a DVD of The Americans Season 1 for a neighbor as a gift. It never occurred to me before to send him DVD’s. I didn’t realize that he could he could receive them. My Russian wife and I enjoy the series very much as do many of my friends. Therefore I thought that it would be very entertaining to him given his background in the Russian military, his career as a global aviation transporter as well as being a Russian citizen. There have been a couple of titles that the BOP never gave him and that were never returned. I believe one of the titles was Jesse Ventura’s, 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read. I hope that the BOP at least put them in their library or gave them to other less restricted prisoners to read.

As Viktor states is his message to me he is actually able to view The American’s on tv but apparently not on DVD. Knowing that the CIA vetted the series and thus denied the DVD to Viktor surprised me. One can only speculate whether or not it was simply to deny him a few hours of entertainment or rejected on the basis of national security. Not to mention the fact that he is able to watch The American’s on tv but not the DVD. At least the BOP kicked back The Americans DVD and I received a full refund from Amazon.

A Corrlink message from Viktor Bout to me

A Corrlink message from Viktor Bout to me.

The biggest compliment someone can get as well a tribute to success is imitation. The hugely successful series The American’s is hours away from the 3rd Season premier. Just eight days later a new series titled, Allegiance, will premiere on NBC. The series is described as:

This high-octane thriller revolves around the O’Connor family and their son, Alex (Gavin Stenhouse), a young idealistic CIA analyst specializing in Russian affairs. Unbeknownst to him, both of his parents and his sister are part of a dormant Russian sleeper cell that has just been reactivated.

Years ago, Russian-born Katya (Hope Davis) was tasked by the KGB to recruit American businessman Mark O’Connor (Scott Cohen) as a spy, and the two fell in love. A deal was struck: as long as Katya remained an asset for Russia, she would be allowed to marry Mark and move to America. After years in America building a happy life and without word from Moscow, they thought they had escaped.

It sounds a lot like The American’s to me.

Former Russian spy turned fashion model, talk show host & philanthropist.

Former Russian spy Anna Chapman, turned fashion model, talk show host & philanthropist.

Ironically today according to The Washington Times, the FBI nabs member of Russian spy ring in New York City. It is ironic because the show The American’s is based on the capture of Anna Chapman and 9 other Russian spies arrested in the U.S. by the FBI that were released via a prison swap during the Illegals Program. The American’s was based on the Illegals Program but set in the 70’s and 80’s. Perhaps it is during that era that is most familiar to the creator Joe Weisberg?

The jury is still out on whether or not I will be watching Allegiance? However, when Season 3 of The American’s premieres this Wednesday, I’ll be watching along with perhaps Joe Weisberg, the CIA and maybe Viktor Bout will be watching on tv in prison?

Further Reading:

US journalist says CIA Director’s visit to Ukraine perfectly logical

Ukraine Scenario Has CIA Modus Operandi Written All Over It

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

Was Viktor Bout’s sentence just?

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

Contact Information:

Twitter: Dobroyeutro

gmappjr@gmail.com

US journalist says CIA Director’s visit to Ukraine perfectly logical

Original article: US journalist says CIA Director’s visit to Ukraine perfectly logical  By Voice of Russia Posted on: April 14, 2014.

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A US journalist George Mapp, specializing in investigation into secret service activities and security issues, claims it was perfectly logical for the US to organize a personal visit by CIA Director John Brennan to Ukraine in the context of the unfolding geopolitical game around the country in question.

Victor Yanukovych said earlier that it was after their meeting with Brennan that Ukraine’s power-wielding agency chiefs took the decision to launch a special operation in the east of the country.

A source close to Ukraine’s security agencies has told the RIA Novosti news agency that Brennan came to Kiev last Saturday and met with Ukraine’s security chiefs before the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said it was launching a special operation against those pressing for federalization in the east of Ukraine.

Mapp told RIA Novosti in a commentary that the situation around Ukraine was an extremely important and ticklish chess game, played by all the countries involved.

According to him, the US is trying to divert Russia’s attention from Syria, while Moscow may show one and all, above all the BRICS countries, that it is capable of damaging the US economy and currency in this standoff with the West. For these reasons, the way the chess game in question ends will have an enormous importance and consequences, it is therefore quite logical that the CIA Director decided to personally visit Ukraine.

Mapp says he believes that Brennan did pay a visit to Kiev, although he admits he has no direct evidence of that from his sources. According to Mapp, small wonder if the CIA was not only involved in, but also organized and controlled the protests from the outset.

According to the journalist, the Ukrainian scenario of the past few months is very much like any other CIA-planned scenario. He says the CIA has quite an experience in staging state coups, including in Ukraine, citing the Orange Revolution of 2004 as evidence.

Russia wants explanation of report CIA chief visited Kiev

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said Moscow would like Washington to explain reports in the Russian media that CIA director John Brennan visited the Ukrainian capital at the weekend.

“We would like to understand the meaning of reports about an urgent visit of CIA director Mr Brennan to Kiev,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow. “So far we have not been given any explanations that would be reasonable.”

CIA refuses to comment on Brennan’s visit to Ukraine

The US Central Intelligence Agency has claimed reports that CIA Director John Brennan had influenced the Ukrainian authorities’ decision to launch a special operation in eastern Ukraine,The Los Angeles Times reports with reference to a CIA official, Todd Ebitz. Ebitz chose not to comment on reports that Brennan had visited Kiev.

The report was posted on the daily’s website overnight into Sunday. The daily quotes him as saying that all statements about the Ukrainian authorities’ invitation to Brennan to come and advise on some tactical matters inside Ukraine is an outright lie, since Director Brennan strongly believes that a diplomatic solution is the only way to settle the crisis in Russia-Ukraine relations.

Victor Yanukovych, who is the legitimate President of Ukraine, said earlier that Ukraine’s power-wielding agencies took the decision on a special operation in the east of Ukraine following their meeting with Brennan.

A source, close to Ukraine’s security agencies, told RIA-Novosti that Brennan came to Kiev on Saturday to meet the power agency chiefs before the Interior Ministry in Kiev announced the launching of a special operation against those pressing for federalization in the east of Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said Moscow would like Washington to explain reports in the Russian media that CIA director John Brennan visited the Ukrainian capital at the weekend.

“We would like to understand the meaning of reports about an urgent visit of CIA director Mr Brennan to Kiev,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow. “So far we have not been given any explanations that would be reasonable.”

CIA’s head has come to Ukraine to instruct power agencies – unofficial source

A source in the Ukrainian parliament has told the Russian Interfax news agency that CIA’s Director John Brennan has recently visited Ukraine’s capital Kiev and had several meetings with representatives of Ukraine’s power-wielding agencies.

The person who said this to Interfax in a phone talk added that John Brennan came to Ukraine not under his real name.

According to some yet unconfirmed information, the decision to suppress protesters in Slavyansk, a city in Ukraine’s east, with force was advised to Ukraine’s authorities by Brennan.

However, Interfax does not have any confirmation from any official sources that this is really so.

Contact Information:

Twitter: Dobroyeutro

gmappjr@gmail.com

Further Reading:

Ukraine Scenario Has CIA Modus Operandi Written All Over It

 

Ukraine Scenario Has CIA Modus Operandi Written All Over It

Original article: OPINION: Ukraine Scenario Has CIA Modus Operandi Written All Over It By: Daria Chernyshova of Ria Novosti Posted on: April 14, 2014.

Last Sunday evening, April 13, 2014 I was contacted by RIA Novosti and asked to give my commentary about rumors of CIA director John Brennan’s alleged visit to Kiev, Ukraine. I stated “Yes, I do believe that CIA director Brennan was in Kiev on Saturday,” as well as explaining my rationale. Approximately 8 hours after the article below that quoted me was published, this article was published and quickly went viral on the Internet: White House confirms CIA director visited Ukraine over weekend

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MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova – The events unfolding in Ukraine are in line with other international Central Intelligence Agency operations, George Mapp, an investigative journalist and a contributor to the Daily Journalist, told RIA Novosti on Monday.

“The Ukraine scenario that has developed over the last several months has the CIA’s modus operandi written all over it,” Mapp told RIA Novosti.

“As far as the Central Intelligence Agency being involved in the protests, yes it is extremely likely that they have not only been involved but also engineered and orchestrated the protests from the onset,” he added.

Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has said CIA director John Brennan met with Kiev authorities over the weekend.

A source close to Ukraine’s security agencies confirmed the CIA director visited the country under a false name and might have travelled to the city of Slaviansk in Eastern Ukraine, where Kiev authorities suppressed pro-federalization demonstrations by force. The decision to sanction the use of weapons and provoke bloodshed might have been influenced by the CIA chief.

“Yes, I do believe that CIA director Brennan was in Kiev on Saturday,” Mapp said.

“I have not as of yet received direct confirmation from any of my sources. Not only is the CIA extremely experienced in political coups, they have a history and thus experience in Ukraine. I am referring to the ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004 and 2005,” he added.

At least three people, including a pro-federalization supporter, were killed in the clashes between forces loyal to Kiev, including Right Sector fighters, and the local protestors, who had seized a local government building, a district police department and a security service office.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page that an operation was underway in the city involving “all the country’s law enforcement agencies.”

CIA veterans, who wished to remain anonymous, told RIA Novosti they were skeptical about Brennan’s visit to Ukraine. The political standoff between the West and Russia over Ukraine “is an extremely important and delicate chess match,” according to Mapp, so a visit of a high-ranking US official would be quite possible.

“The huge importance and implications depending on the outcome of this multi-faceted political chess match – it makes perfect sense that CIA director John Brennan would himself go to Ukraine,” Mapp said.

“Also, I don’t think that director Brennan would mind a bit of time away and a temporary distraction from Senator Feinstein and the Senate Intelligence Committee due to the current situation in Washington,” he added.

The US Embassy in Kiev hosted several training sessions for young digital enthusiasts known as “TechCamps” across Ukraine over the past two years. A TechCamp in Warsaw last October was attended by representatives of Polish NGOs and “socially active students from Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Belarus.”

The workshop in October 2012 in Kiev was kicked off by US Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft, who expressed America’s commitment to youth development and said that technology in the hands of teachers, librarians, and youth advocates “gives hope for the future.”

On Monday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia is not interested in interfering in Ukraine’s domestic affairs. “It contradicts our interests,” he said at a press conference with the Sudanese foreign minister in Moscow. He also condemned the decision to use force, including army troops, against protesters in eastern Ukraine as extremely dangerous.

Contact Information:

Twitter: Dobroyeutro

gmappjr@gmail.com

Richard Chichakli, Accused Partner of Viktor Bout Found Guilty On All Counts Amid Disgruntled Jury

Richard Ammar Chichakli

Richard Ammar Chichakli

On a freezing December afternoon on Friday 13th at about 12:30 pm the jury announced their verdict against Richard Ammar Chichakli. Chichakli was found guilty on all nine counts. One count of conspiring to violate international sanctions, one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud. Richard Chichakli will be sentenced on March 14th, 2014.

Since I was unable to be in the courtroom during the reading of the verdict, I relied on information directly from Chichakli. Here is what he wrote me:

Good day George
Thank you for your message, and here’s the update

The decision was rendered about 12:30, and it is all as expected; guilty on all counts.
Sincerely
Richard

In a letter to judge Pauley dated to December 11th 2013, Chichakli filed a motion of mistrial to the judge based on emails of at least two jurors complaining about him and dragging the trial out as long as he could. Chichakli mentioned that the prosecutors presented over 600 slides in three separate presentations in addition to the slides I counted seventeen witness’ presented by the government during the trial. I understand the legal angle that the burden of the proof is on the prosecution. However, isn’t it is a reasonable assertion that if there are many witness’ then there could potentially be a lot of cross-examination? Apparently the jury didn’t see it that way and solely blamed Chichakli.

[Read the motion here: Richard Chichakli’s Motion to Declare Mistrial]

Chichakli in another email to me elaborated and gave some insight into exactly what was said by some of the jurors. As well as pointing out that juror number 10 whom was also elected the jury foreman, stated that the trial must end by Friday because his income would be negatively impacted. That turned out to be the exact day that the guilty verdict was rendered against Chichakli. Here is what Chichakli wrote me:

Everything we have seen was leading to the conclusion that was received, that’s why it was no surprise at all.
It was difficult to operate with the court refusal of admitting evidence, the refusal to allow testimony from witnesses we needed, the unbalanced prejudicial latitude favoring the prosecution, and finally the acceptance of the juries prejudice against the defendant.

I think until receiving copy of that e-mail which was sent to the judge by jurors number 9 and number 10, I; for some reason, start feeling as if there was a chance for justice. Then, the jury email stating:

“There is serious discontent in the jury room concerning the longer than expected trial, saying the defendant trying to drag the case as long as he could while everyone else is suffering”

The reasons this email was signal of prejudice and cause for mistrial is due to:
———————————————————————————————
1-The discontent in the jury room means that the jurors were discussing the case; this is a violation of the court instruction
2-The jury; collectively, are blaming the defendant alone while accepting the 792-slides presented by the gov over 5 days
3-The jury have obviously made a decision already evident by saying “The defendant is dragging the case”
4-The jury expressed that they are suffering; whatever that means, retaliation is an expected response to suffering
5- Discontent in the jury room; again, means more than one juror – the jury room holds 12

The strange thing that the second e-mail was received from juror-10 also complaining about the lengthy trial, and stating that he cannot serve past today-Friday; the guilty verdict day because that would hurt his income. That very juror was the foreperson who seemed very proud while reading the verdict.

Chichakli’s trial has generated very little press coverage outside of a few media outlets. Over the last twenty-four hours almost every world-wide media outlet has published a story on Chichakli’s conviction. Most reports are almost identically reading more like a scripted press release as opposed to any actual news coverage or reporting. Ironically I have seen many news publications with this quote or similar variation, “His [Chichakli’s] case has raised tensions in already frigid ties between the United States and Russia.” I say ironic because the interest that I observed from Russia has been somewhere between little or none. In fact, Viktor Bout seems to be fading from the media headlines in Russia and is becoming a mostly forgotten topic. Chichakli is an American-Syrian citizen arrested and then extradited from Australia to the States. I don’t see any direct Russian connection nor any noted interest from the Russian government nor their media.

This case has been anything but usual. The jury has rendered their verdict and the sentencing will be on March 14th, 2014. However, somehow I don’t think the case is over. If I was gambling man, I’d bet big that Chichakli will be looking at the appellate court in the near future.

Contact Information:

dobroyeutro1@gmail.com

Twitter: Dobroyeutro 

Further Reading:

Richard Chichakli Asked Judge for Mistrial Based on Jurors Discontent: USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

The Government Rests In Richard Chichakli Trial: USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

Richard Chichakli Calls His First Witness in USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

Richard Chichakli Crowdsourcing Legal Advice

Judge Rules Merchant of Death Author Does Not Have to Testify in Chichakli Trial

Inside The Courtroom: Richard Chichakli’s U.S. Trial Begins

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli’s First Interview Since His Extradition From Australia To A U.S. Prison Exclusive: Viktor Bout’s Alleged Partner Richard Chichakli Rejects Government’s Plea Deal

Richard Chichakli’s Extradition to the U.S. is Imminent Bail denied for Richard Chichakli: Inside The Court Room during The Hearing

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli: “Australian Prison Is Trying To Poison Me”

World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness in the Never Ending Viktor Bout Saga

The Half-Truths and Missing Facts of Disarming Viktor Bout: The Chichakli – Schmidle Files

Exclusive: Richard Chichakli Speaks About the Viktor Bout Trial

Viktor Bout Convicted Over Terrorism Charges Bout’s case – America’s hidden skeletons

Viktor Bout convicted in ‘arms smuggling’ case, may get life

Case closed? Final arguments heard in ‘Merchant of Death’ trial

Imaginary Crimes: The Never Ending Viktor Bout Story

The DEA’s Conduit to Viktor Bout Gets a Slap on the Wrist: Andrew Smulian Sentenced to Five Years

Was Viktor Bout’s sentence just?

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

Richard Chichakli Asked Judge for Mistrial Based on Jurors Discontent: USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

Richard Chichakli

Richard Chichakli

 

Emotions are running extremely high in this strange and curious case of USA vs. Richard Chichakli. It is not surprising, with the trial in its fourth week, that jurors complained about the length of the trial. Jurors number 9 and 10 said enough is enough in emails to the judge. One juror said that their job is going to train and hire a replacement due to their long absence. After hearing this Chichakli demanded a mistrial saying that now the jury is biased against him. The judge refused.

Here is what happened today in Chichakli’s own words:

Today was the end of the witnesses and taking of evidence.
The whole thing turned into mess from the set go in the morning which started with receiving copies of two emails sent by two different juror complaining about the defendant taking too much time. The Email stated in its first line:

“There is a discontent in the jury room with the way the defendant is dragging the case as long as he could”

The other email also complained about the longer than expected trial and blames the defendant “based on our discussions” and ours is the jury. I immediately moved to have the case declared a Mistrial, and the judge immediately denied the motion, and subsequently he went after me on personal level saying that I caused the extended trial and he never seen more boring trial, and etc. Amazing stuff, unrealistically amazing.

So we are sat for tomorrow closing arguments.

[Richard Chichakli’s Motion to Declare Mistrial]

Chichakli’s frustration and emotions flared and Chichakli is apparently not happy that the government brought seventeen witness’ to the stand compared to his paltry four witness’. I say paltry because about a dozen witness’ that Chichakli wanted to testify were nullified by the judge. However, the judge has stated to the jury on more than one occasion that “the defendant is under absolutely no obligation to bring forth witness’, the burden of proof is up to the prosecutors.” The judge whom has been extremely patiently throughout this long trial also seemed frustrated. Judge Pauley stated today to Chichakli that Monday was the “most painful in my twenty-five year career. ” I was not in the courtroom yesterday. Therefore I am guessing that since Al Monica was the governments final witness and the judge denied Chichakli’s request for several other DEA and FBI agents to testify, that he was trying to questioning him as extensively as possible. But that is just speculation on my part.

DEA

Today Chichakli called Department of Justice employee John Cox  III whom he wanted to testify to the fact that he gave Chichakli permission to leave the U.S. back in 2005. Cox said that he could not detain Chichakli nor deny him the right to leave the country since there was no arrest warrant, merely an investigation. Chichakli’s ex-wife Gloria Chichakli also testified. They had not seen each other since 2005 when Chichakli left the States.

Tomorrow on December 11th, 2013 at 9:45 am the government will begin its closing argument or summation. They indicated to the judge that it should last about one hour forty-five minutes. Chichakli indicated that he would need about two and a half hours. However, it is still not clear whom will deliver the defense’s summation. Chichakli late in the day said that he was finished defending himself. Whether or not this was simply emotion or after being incarcerated and defending himself in a four week trial pro-se against the U.S. government and their legal team has in fact left him emotionally and physically spent? So we will not know until tomorrow whether Chichakli whom has handled his case in its entirety will deliver his own summation to the jury or if it will be his back up counsel Mr. Kirton.

Just a reminder for the first part of the trial Chichakli was in solitary confinement without access to email, phone calls or any communications whatsoever outside of Mr. Kirton visiting him in jail. Upon hearing this the judge ordered the Bureau of Prisons [BOP] to move him into general population as well as ordering OFAC to unblock his funds sent to him by his sister so that he could make phone calls. As late as last week Chichakli stated on record that the only Kosher meals provided to him by the prison were frozen and the U.S. Marshals denied him access to a microwave. The judge asked him at the end of that day if he ate and Chichakli stated that he had a piece of bread. The judge sternly told the prosecution to make sure that the defendant is provided with a meal that he can eat.

After the defense finishes their summation then the prosecutors get a 2nd chance called a rebuttal summation. The reason for this is that it is solely up to the prosecution to prove Chichakli’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Once that is completed then in my opinion is the most important part of the trial. It is the judges instructions to the jury on how to interpret the law. This is extremely important because in this case Chichakli is being charged with breaking Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] sanctions and International Emergency Economic Powers Act [IEEPA] laws. According to all the witness’ that testified including Molly Miller whom works for OFAC the laws are open to interpretation. Chichakli, his back up counsel Mr. Kirton and OFAC expert attorney Hal Eren all disagreed with Molly Miller’s testimony and interpretation of the law. Chichakli wanted to have another OFAC employee testify but the judge ruled against it. The judge stated that he will interpret the law for the jury.

Contact Information:

dobroyeutro1@gmail.com

Twitter: Dobroyeutro 

Further Reading:

The Government Rests In Richard Chichakli Trial: USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

Richard Chichakli Calls His First Witness in USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

Richard Chichakli Crowdsourcing Legal Advice

Judge Rules Merchant of Death Author Does Not Have to Testify in Chichakli Trial

Inside The Courtroom: Richard Chichakli’s U.S. Trial Begins

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli’s First Interview Since His Extradition From Australia To A U.S. Prison Exclusive: Viktor Bout’s Alleged Partner Richard Chichakli Rejects Government’s Plea Deal

Richard Chichakli’s Extradition to the U.S. is Imminent Bail denied for Richard Chichakli: Inside The Court Room during The Hearing

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli: “Australian Prison Is Trying To Poison Me”

World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness in the Never Ending Viktor Bout Saga

The Half-Truths and Missing Facts of Disarming Viktor Bout: The Chichakli – Schmidle Files

Exclusive: Richard Chichakli Speaks About the Viktor Bout Trial

Viktor Bout Convicted Over Terrorism Charges Bout’s case – America’s hidden skeletons

Viktor Bout convicted in ‘arms smuggling’ case, may get life

Case closed? Final arguments heard in ‘Merchant of Death’ trial

Imaginary Crimes: The Never Ending Viktor Bout Story

The DEA’s Conduit to Viktor Bout Gets a Slap on the Wrist: Andrew Smulian Sentenced to Five Years

Was Viktor Bout’s sentence just?

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

The Government Rests In Richard Chichakli Trial: USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

Richard Chichakli

Richard Chichakli

Monday December 9th, 2013 11:00 am

Until today I have attended everyday of the Richard Chichakli trial in its entirety. Just to be crystal clear, Chichakli at this very moment is continuing his cross examination of Al Monica whom is the governments seventeenth and final witness. Mr. Monica is employed as a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton and currently working for the DEA’s Special Operation Division more commonly referred to as SOD. According to Chicakli’s latest email he will call several more witness’, here is what he wrote me:

“On Monday I will also have my Ex-Wife Gloria testifying, My Ex-Partner William Riggs, and John Cox, the DOJ official who granted me the permission to leave in 2005.
The trial should be done by Wednesday and it is up to the Jury from that point.
That is all the summary for now, and I will keep you posted.”

Before I go into more detail about Mr. Monica’s testimony, I want to back up to last week. Specifically last Thursday December 5th, 2013 when Chichakli called his second witness Tami Loehrs, whom was deemed an expert witness. Ms. Loehrs is a computer forensic analyst at her firm, Loehrs & Associates located in Tucson, Arizona and has been in business for approximately 14 years since 1999.

Before the jury entered the courtroom, prosecutor Christian Everdell indicated to the judge that he was not happy that Ms. Loehrs was interrupting the prosecutions case. Everdell said that he didn’t think it was fair that the defense’s expert witness interrupt Ms. Seidsma whom was the governments expert computer forensic witness. Mrs. Loehrs couldn’t testify later in the week due to schedule conflicts for other trials and the judge previously agreed to let her interrupt the governments witness due to the defendant being incarcerated as well as having limited resources. Everdell suggested a compromise to the judge, that their expert witness, Ms. Seidsma be allowed to sit at the attorney’s table inside the courtroom during Ms. Loehrs testimony. Mr. Everdell had also previously raised concerns to the judge of not having enough time to prepare for the cross-examination of the defense’s expert witness Ms. Loehrs. Thus allowing Ms. Seidsma to hear Ms. Loehrs testimony would allow the prosecution to better prepare for the cross-examination. Judge Pauley stated that he thought that was a very sensible and fair compromise and Chichakli had no objections and thus it was allowed.

U.S. Federal Court House at 500 Pearl St. where Chichakli's trial is being held.

U.S. Federal Court House at 500 Pearl St. where Chichakli’s trial is being held.

Thursday December 5th, 2013 at 10:05 am the jury entered and then Ms. Loehrs. After Ms. Loehrs briefly described her credentials and experience Chichakli began questioning her. Chichakli asked her about ‘hash values’ as compared to the ‘size of data’ comparison in forensic analysis. The reason Chichakli raised this question was that the Royal Thai police seized Viktor Bout’s laptop in March 2008 and it was stated by the prosecution that a forensic copy of the original laptop was made. However, it came out in testimony during the trial that the DEA’s forensic analyst compared the size of Bout’s laptop with a forensic copy via the ‘data size’ method. Much of the evidence presented in Bout’s trial that led to his conviction as well as a lot of evidence in Chichakli’s trial presented in the courtroom was allegedly taken from Bout’s laptop.

Ms. Loehrs when asked by Chichakli how can you authenticate the DEA’s forensic copy of Bout’s laptop with the original via the ‘data size’ method [as compared to the hash value method], she answered, “you can’t.” Loehrs continued, “there is no way to verify size or data, you absolutely can not verify data. It is “not an acceptable method [referring to the ‘data size’ method] because it is not accurate.”

Chichakli continued questioning the witness. Asking that if you replaced a photo of myself with my 100 year old grandmother and the data of each image was exactly the same, would it alter the size of the data on the computer. Loehrs answered that you can add and / or delete many files and as long as they are the same file sizes that total data size of the computer would not change.

Viktor Bout being led off the plane by DEA agents in White Plains, NY February 2010.

Viktor Bout being led off the plane by DEA agents in White Plains, NY February 2010.

At 10:45 am Christian Everdell for the government begins cross-examining the witness. He was fairly tame asking Ms. Loehrs if she had forensically evaluated the evidence in this particular case. Everdell also asked her if she had any evidence if the forensic evidence presented in this case was manipulated or altered, she stated “I have no idea.  She stated she had no evidence that it was authentic or tampered with, she couldn’t say either way. Chichakli asked a few additional questions on re-direct examination to try to hammer home his previous points of the hash value being the only valid and accurate method in forensic analysis. At 11:23 am during Everdell’s re-cross of Ms. Loehrs, things got very nasty. Everdell attacked her character by asking her if she remembers posting a 2010 FaceBook post demeaning the FBI? Ms. Loehrs smiled and chuckled slightly and stated, “yes I remember that post.” Everdell then continued and got more vicious and started questioning several previous trials that Loehrs testified as a witness. Everdell pointed out at least a half-dozen examples and negative reactions to Ms. Loehrs previous court testimonies. She remained dignified and composed during this verbal assault and one of her last responses in reply to Everdell was, “that is what happens to you when you testify against and question the techniques and methods of forensic analysis used by law enforcement, they sometimes say bad things about you.”

Ms. Loehrs testimony ended almost exactly at 1:00 pm just in time for the lunch break. After lunch, at 2:00 pm Chichakli continued his cross-examination of the prosecutions 16th witness, Ms. Seidsma whose testimony was interrupted by Ms. Loehrs.  About thirty minutes later Ms. Siedsma was excused and the governments 17th and final witness took the stand at 2:32 pm. During Al Monica’s initially testimony he stated that he is a contractor working for the DEA’s SOD. The judge stopped both the prosecutor Ian McGinley and Mr. Monica and said wait, who do you work for? Monica then stated that he was a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton hired by the DEA’s SOD. The judge later stated when the jury was on a break that the fact that Monica wasn’t directly working for the DEA almost slipped past him. He expressed his displeasure to the prosecution as to the way they presented their witness to the court.

Monica’s testimony was almost exclusively a slide presentation that also included a timeline. Chichakli objected to the entire slideshow and it was overruled by the judge. After the second slide Chichakli’s standby counsel Mr. Kirton said, “Your honor, I know the court has previously ruled on this but we object. We object to all of it.” The judge then called another sidebar [ an area in front of or next to the judge’s bench away from the witness stand and the jury box, where lawyers are called to speak confidentially with the judge out of earshot of the jury].

The judge said that the slide show was closing argument material. He actually removed slide one from evidence and it seemed to me that the judge almost considered not allowing the entire slide show which the government argued to keep it in evidence. After another sidebar, when the prosecution resumed in a very brisk manner almost flying through the slide presentation. Based on the previous two slide shows presented by the prosecution which was presented at a snails pace, the witness Monica was reading so fast that the court reporter had to ask him to read slower.

Viktor Bout with translations headphones and the honorable judge judge Shira A. Scheindlin on the bench.

Viktor Bout with translations headphones and the honorable judge judge Shira A. Scheindlin on the bench.

In Viktor Bout’s trial there were very few sidebars, in fact on one occasional when Bout’s lawyer Albert Dayan asked to approach the bench, judge Scheindlin said, “Yes but don’t make a habit of it.” I have been told by reporters covering trials for years that every judge is different. In terms of sidebars judge Pauley is much more liberal, in fact he calls them many times, if I had to guess how many sidebars there have been during this trial, I would say close to thirty. However, this trial is unique and highly unusual I have no idea if judge Pauley would call this many sidebars if Chichakli was not defending himself. One thing is apparent, he has been extremely fair and patient with Chichakli inside the courtroom, and in my opinion going out of his way to help him with his legal limitations since he is representing himself with no prior legal experience.

However, I do know for a fact that Chichakli would argue that the court has been very unfair in what it has allowed to be used as evidence in testimony and especially in the case of the allowance of witness’ that he requested to testify. Chichakli has stated very clearly on numerous occasions that he feels that about a dozen of his witness’ being denied by the court to testify is completely unfair and denies him a fair trial. The next several excerpts are taken verbatim directly from Chichakli’s emails, some are to others where I was cc’d and the rest were sent to me directly.

Good day [name intentionally left blank]:
Thank you for your message.
The trial is going as usual, with the usual denial of witnesses and documents. Nothing new, just about the same but with different witnesses.

On top of the denial of witness I am as of last week, neither allowed to bring-up or reference my US intelligence service nor allowed to ask witnesses about the subject all together. I am also not allowed to ask witnesses regarding my earlier discussion with the government, it is a strange way of conducting fair trial …. the least to say.

This is an excerpt of a very recent letter to the judge by Chichakli asking him to reconsider his decision on whether or not to allow Department of Justice employee Adam Szubin to testfy. the ful letter can be read here: Richard Chichakli’s Letter to the Judge for Reconsideration of a Potential Witness

IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE, EQUITY, DUE PROCESS and FOR THE PURPOSE OF ATTAINING FAIR TRIAL AT EQUAL BASIS Defendant is humbly requesting that the court reconsider its previous ruling concerning the exclusion of documents from the 2006 Chichakli Civil Case against the government, and the denial of the defense request to call Adam Szubin to testify. Both the testimony of Mr. Szubin and the document used in Chichakli’s 2006 legal action against the government are directly related to the case on trial now, they are related, and they were both used by the government in preparing its case against the defendant.
Respectfully submitted

Richard Chichakli, (Pro-Se)
Defendant

 

Richard Ammar Chichakli

Richard Ammar Chichakli

In terms of bringing up Chichakli’s past work for U.S. intelligence agencies, Chichakli tried to ask Special Agent Larsen whom testified on Tuesday December 3rd if he was aware of his prior work with the NSA? The question was objected by prosecution and sustained by the judge. Chichakli tried to rephrase the question but it ended with the same results. Chichakli in frustration then turned to the judge and said to the judge, “Why can’t I ask about the NSA?” The judge answered, “I’m forbidding it. I issued an order under CIPA.” CIPA is the Classified Information Procedures Act. I did not attend every pre-trial hearing but the judge made it clear that it was discussed and some point and a ruling was made. Obviously it was at a pre-trial hearing that I didn’t attend. Shorty after I posted this article a friend and colleague sent me this pdf: GOVERNMENT’S MEMORANDUM OF LAW TO PRECLUDE THE DEFENDANT FROM OFFERING CERTAIN EVIDENCE which explains why Richard Chichakli’s testimony and evidence is extremely restricted.

The trial will probably end Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday depending on the judge Pauley’s ruling on Chichakli’s reconsideration of witness’. For more detailed information about Chichakli’s first witness, please read Richard Chichakli Calls His First Witness in USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al. Please stay tuned, we are getting close to the closing arguments and the end of the trial. It is impossible to guess how long a jury will deliberate but deliberations could possibly start as early as Thursday or possibly Friday.

Contact Information:

dobroyeutro1@gmail.com

Twitter: Dobroyeutro 

Further Reading:

Richard Chichakli Calls His First Witness in USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

Richard Chichakli Crowdsourcing Legal Advice

Judge Rules Merchant of Death Author Does Not Have to Testify in Chichakli Trial

Inside The Courtroom: Richard Chichakli’s U.S. Trial Begins

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli’s First Interview Since His Extradition From Australia To A U.S. Prison Exclusive: Viktor Bout’s Alleged Partner Richard Chichakli Rejects Government’s Plea Deal

Richard Chichakli’s Extradition to the U.S. is Imminent Bail denied for Richard Chichakli: Inside The Court Room during The Hearing

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli: “Australian Prison Is Trying To Poison Me”

World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness in the Never Ending Viktor Bout Saga

The Half-Truths and Missing Facts of Disarming Viktor Bout: The Chichakli – Schmidle Files

Exclusive: Richard Chichakli Speaks About the Viktor Bout Trial

Viktor Bout Convicted Over Terrorism Charges Bout’s case – America’s hidden skeletons

Viktor Bout convicted in ‘arms smuggling’ case, may get life

Case closed? Final arguments heard in ‘Merchant of Death’ trial

Imaginary Crimes: The Never Ending Viktor Bout Story

The DEA’s Conduit to Viktor Bout Gets a Slap on the Wrist: Andrew Smulian Sentenced to Five Years

Was Viktor Bout’s sentence just?

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

Richard Chichakli Calls His First Witness in USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al

Richard Chichakli

Richard Chichakli

 

On Wednesday December 4th, 2013 at approximately 2pm the defendant Richard Chichakli, defending himself pro se called his first witness to the stand. Chichakli’s first witness was OFAC [Office of Foreign Asset Control] specialist attorney Hal Eren. This was one witness more than was called during the entire Viktor Bout trial. Chichakli will call several more witness’ including Tami Loehrs an expert computer forensic analyst, FBI special agent Dennis Brady who is currently a Legal Attache in Nairobi, Kenya and possibly DEA agent William Brown pending judge Pauley’s approval. Richard Chichakli submitted a proffer yesterday afternoon to the judge in regards to special agent Brown whom also testified in the Viktor Bout trial.

Mr. Eren was already introduced to us by name via previous exhibits entered into evidence by the prosecution. Despite several protests and objections to the the judge by the prosecutor’s, Eren’s testimony interrupted the prosecutions case as well as their 16th witness, Christine Siedsma. Ironically Siedsma works as a digital forensic examiner in the DEA labs in Lorton, VA. The prosecutor was not as upset over Eren’s testimony as compared to to the upcoming testimony this morning by the defense’s expert witness Tami Loehrs. The prosecution argued that it was not fair to interrupt their case with their expert witness testifying with an expert witness for the defense. They added that it may be interpreted as being prejudicial. Prosecutor Christian Everdell asked if Loehrs could testify on Monday which would also allow prosecutors more time to prepare their cross-examination. Judge Pauley reminded the prosecutor’s that Chichakli is not the U.S. government with unlimited resources as well as pointing out that Ms. Loehrs only anticipated being in New York for a day plus she had scheduling concerns with another trial.

Richard Ammar Chichakli

Richard Ammar Chichakli

Hal Eren previously worked for OFAC for approximately seven and a half years and has been in private practice for twenty years with his partner Mr. Pinter. Pinter worked at OFAC for seventeen and a half years, according to Eren making them the most experienced private law firm specializing in OFAC related issues. Eren testified that in his legal opinion that Chichakli did not violate OFAC sanctions because he was acting solely as a broker in an airplane deal that exceeded $1.7 million which funds were frozen by OFAC on April 26 2005 and remained frozen to this day. This airplane transaction is at the heart of the government’s case, alleging that Chichakli violated OFAC sanctions specifically IEEPA laws. Chichakli’s defense is that no other parties nor individuals involved in the airplane transaction were on the OFAC sanction list and since Chichakli alleges that he acted only as a broker between the two parties when he was outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. that he did not violate the law. Eren did testify that in addition to contacting OFAC in defense of Chichakli and the companies involved [Aventura Aviation and Samar Air] that the funds that were frozen in 2005 were not tied to Chichakli in anyway. Eren testified that Chichakli was to be paid a $50,000 brokers fee or finders fee directly by Samar Air and that those monies were separate and segregated from the monies involved in the frozen airplane transaction.

During cross-examination Eren seemed to be an entirely different witness and appeared to completely flip. At one point Ian McGinley one of the prosecutor’s asked Eren did we speak previously about this case and he answered yes, then the McGinley asked him did you in fact tell me that you thought Aventura Aviation was conned by Chichakli. Eren stumbled and bumbled and put it in a more diplomatic phrase saying that he felt that he “wasn’t provided with all the available information.”

During cross-examination Eren was asked do you feel that you were misled, and answered that since being provided with the indictment from the government he felt that he was misled. During Eren’s re-direct by Chichakli he was asked if he thought that the documents and evidence that the government provided was authentic? Eren answered that since it came from the government that he assumed it to be true. The judge took notably exception to this comment. In fact shortly after this temper and emotions were escalating on both sides and the judge called for the mid-afternoon break and dismissed the jury for a short recess. About twenty-five minutes later, a slighter longer break to allow all parties to collect their thoughts and to clam down, the jury re-entered. The judge told the court directing his comments to the jury in a very firm tone that what he heard was “an astonishing statement especially coming from an attorney” referring to Erens comment that he presumed the governments evidence to be true. Judge Pauley told the jury that an indictment is not evidence and is only a legal charge to bring the defendant to trial. Judge Pauley emphasized that “the only assumption is that the defendant Mr. Chichakli is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” The judge then made a comment as to Eren’s bias to the prosecutor’s despite the fact that the defense called the witness.

Please stay tuned for more updates!

Contact Information:

dobroyeutro1@gmail.com

Twitter: Dobroyeutro 

Further Reading:

Richard Chichakli Crowdsourcing Legal Advice

Judge Rules Merchant of Death Author Does Not Have to Testify in Chichakli Trial

Inside The Courtroom: Richard Chichakli’s U.S. Trial Begins

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli’s First Interview Since His Extradition From Australia To A U.S. Prison Exclusive: Viktor Bout’s Alleged Partner Richard Chichakli Rejects Government’s Plea Deal

Richard Chichakli’s Extradition to the U.S. is Imminent Bail denied for Richard Chichakli: Inside The Court Room during The Hearing

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli: “Australian Prison Is Trying To Poison Me”

World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness in the Never Ending Viktor Bout Saga

The Half-Truths and Missing Facts of Disarming Viktor Bout: The Chichakli – Schmidle Files

Exclusive: Richard Chichakli Speaks About the Viktor Bout Trial

Viktor Bout Convicted Over Terrorism Charges Bout’s case – America’s hidden skeletons

Viktor Bout convicted in ‘arms smuggling’ case, may get life

Case closed? Final arguments heard in ‘Merchant of Death’ trial

Imaginary Crimes: The Never Ending Viktor Bout Story

The DEA’s Conduit to Viktor Bout Gets a Slap on the Wrist: Andrew Smulian Sentenced to Five Years

Was Viktor Bout’s sentence just?

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

Richard Chichakli Crowdsourcing Legal Advice

Richard Chichakli

Richard Chichakli

Crowdsourcing Legal Advice

Richard Chichakli is fighting an uphill legal battle against the U.S. government. Chichakli has been accused of being Viktor Bout’s co-conspirator, sometimes accused of being Bout’s money-man and / or partner. Chichakli was extradited from Australia this past May to the U.S. where he is currently facing trial. Chichakli’s trial is unusually in many ways but most notable is that he is defending himself pro-se. With my limited court experience, I have been impressed with Chichakli’s handling of his case thus far. Chichakli does not have a law degree nor as far as I know any legal training whatsoever.

Chichakli has been frustrated as of late, especially as to the honorable judge Pauley’s recent decisions in denying Chichakli’s request to have several high-profile witness’ testify. I recently wrote an article about Douglas Farah, co-author of ‘The Merchant of Death’ asking the judge to grant his request not to testify. Farah said that what he knows “is based on hearsay and would not be admissible in court.” My article titled, Judge Rules Merchant of Death Author Does Not Have to Testify in Chichakli Trial goes into more detail. I just received an email from Chichakli earlier today asking me for legal advice. I am obviously not a lawyer but Chichakli then sent me a second email asking me to post a blog with his legal questions, in other words to crowdsource some legal advice for him. This is what he wrote in his second email:

Howdy:
Just sent you some updates for your pages, I wonder if the public can give me an answer through the internet?
Sincerely
Richard

Chichakli seemed very sincere in his quest to understand the law as well as getting any legitimate feedback and opinions to his legal questions. As per Chichakli’s request I am sending out his first email.

Good day:

Judge William Pauley have ruled in favor of the government’s request to preclude witnesses including; among dozen others, Johan Peleman, Dennis Brady, and Douglas Farah

I am questioning whether such ruling is “legally sound” given for the facts that material that were used by the government in the prosecution of this case belongs to these witnesses.

In Peleman’s case, the invention of Chichakli-Bout relation was created by Johan Peleman in his UN report S/2000/1225 and later in his report S/2003/1035. Both reports are included in the indictment, both reports were used to obtain the indictment through the grand jury, and both reports were used by the government in replying to the motions by Chichakli. The judge’s decision in calling this material “irrelevant” and “Hearsay” and these witnesses “Unrelated” seems to be prejudice, or subject to “double standards” the least.

The same applies to Denied Brady of the FBI and who’s affidavit is among the evidence used by the government, so is the case of Douglas Farah who lied twice under oath in his testimony to the US Congress in 2005 and 2008, and who was used and still being used by the US government as “The expert” in the matter of Bout-Chichakli!

My questions are simply:

– How material and witnesses can be used by the government and then excluded and precluded for the defense purpose?
– How material and evidence can be called relevant to the government case and irrelevant to the defense cross-examination?
– How would the government be allowed to bring witnesses that are not on the list of witnesses?
– Is the preclusion of cross-examination constitutional under the 14th amendment?
– Is this trial held under a single set of standards or more than one set of standards?

I am not a lawyer, but these are rather common sense questions!

Richard

Judge Orders Chichakli Out of Solitary Confinement 

I plan to post an update of the trial in sort of a timeline fashion within the next day or two. However, I thought this one particular occurrence was worth mentioning now.

Shortly before Chichakli’s trial began he was moved from MDC Federal prison located in Brooklyn where he was in general population to MCC prison in Manhattan to be closer to the Federal Court house located at 500 Pearl Street. This was no surprise in fact in was anticipated. What occurred next or actually how it happened is not clear. Richard Chichakli was accused of breaking the prison rules and was immediately put into maximum security aka the SHU [Security Housing Unit] upon his arrival to MCC prison in Mahattan. Chichakli told the judge that he did not do anything to warrant the punishment.

Last Monday November 25, 2012 judge Pauley told the prosecutors to have a representative form the Bureau of Prison’s [BOP] to come at 1pm. After the jury was dismissed for lunch, Mr. Johnson from BOP spoke to the judge about moving Chichakli. At which point judge Pauley ordered Chichakli to be moved from solitary confinement to general population as soon as a bed is available. The judge told the prosecutors that this is in their best interest. The judge said, “that if Mr. Chichakli is convicted, this will be the first line in the appellate court.” Since Chichakli is defending himself, while in solitary confinement he has no access to the telephone and no email access. Therefore he had no ability to contact potential witness’ to testify on his behalf nor access to any communications for any purpose. Chichakli earlier in the day mentioned that his sister sent him some funds that were received by the prison but he was blocked by OFAC [Office of Foreign Asset Control] from making any phone call. The judge additionally ordered that BOP and OFAC unblock his commissary account immediately so that Chichakli would have access to his funds.

Contact Information:

dobroyeutro1@gmail.com

Twitter: Dobroyeutro

Further Reading:

Judge Rules Merchant of Death Author Does Not Have to Testify in Chichakli Trial

Inside The Courtroom: Richard Chichakli’s U.S. Trial Begins

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli’s First Interview Since His Extradition From Australia To A U.S. Prison Exclusive: Viktor Bout’s Alleged Partner Richard Chichakli Rejects Government’s Plea Deal

Richard Chichakli’s Extradition to the U.S. is Imminent Bail denied for Richard Chichakli: Inside The Court Room during The Hearing

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli: “Australian Prison Is Trying To Poison Me”

World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness in the Never Ending Viktor Bout Saga

The Half-Truths and Missing Facts of Disarming Viktor Bout: The Chichakli – Schmidle Files

Exclusive: Richard Chichakli Speaks About the Viktor Bout Trial

Viktor Bout Convicted Over Terrorism Charges Bout’s case – America’s hidden skeletons

Viktor Bout convicted in ‘arms smuggling’ case, may get life

Case closed? Final arguments heard in ‘Merchant of Death’ trial

Imaginary Crimes: The Never Ending Viktor Bout Story

The DEA’s Conduit to Viktor Bout Gets a Slap on the Wrist: Andrew Smulian Sentenced to Five Years

Was Viktor Bout’s sentence just?

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years

Inside The Courtroom: Richard Chichakli’s U.S. Trial Begins

Richard Ammar Chichakli

Richard Ammar Chichakli

Inside the Courtroom

So far his case definitely has not attracted the attention of the press as well as the media frenzy that was present during Viktor Bout’s trial. Bout’s trial was packed as well as having an overflow room available where press, Federal employees and the general public could watch the trial via a CCTV. Inside the courtroom there were myself, a Reuter’s representative and several Russian journalists. We could have easily fit on one row but for comfort decided to spread out.

Inside courtroom 20 B Chichakli wore a dark grey suit and hung off him slightly due to a smaller frame caused by weight loss over the last several months. Ironically Bout’s trial was held directly across the hall in courtroom 20 A. One of the lead DEA agents from the Viktor Bout sting operation dubbed Operation Relentless that lead to Bout’s capture in Thailand sat in the back of the courtroom watching the trial intensely. Several other DEA agents popped in briefly during the trail. Those same three agents were present during the majority of Bout’s three week long trial. After a short delay due to a late juror [the judge expressed his displeasure to those in the courtroom] the trial was underway. The presiding judge in this case is the Honorable William H. Pauley III. He is very tall and looks to be average build to thin and wears a closely cropped beard. Being in the courtroom during some of Chichakli’s hearings, it was evident that Judge Pauley III has a good sense of humor, is extremely patient. After sitting through the entire day in court yesterday, the judge came across as extremely fair is this odd case where Chichakli is representing himself also known as pro se.Richard Chichakli.

Opening Statements

The case is U.S.A. v. Bout et al., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 09-1002. The Syrian born naturalized U.S. citizen, Richard Ammar Chichakli falls under the “et al”. After spending nearly 11 combined months in prison from the time he was arrested in Australia until now, he finally has his day in court. Once arrested in January 2013 he was finally extradited to the U.S. in May of this year. According to Chichakli in correspondence between us, he was bounced around quite a bit between prisons and even within prisons. You can read more in my interview with Chichakli, World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli’s First Interview Since His Extradition From Australia To A U.S. Prison.

Due to time constraints I am going to take the following excerpts from a Reuters article titled, U.S. trial begins for Russian arms dealer’s accused conspirator written by Joseph Ax:

A U.S.-Syrian citizen conspired with convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to buy aircraft, using fake names to get around sanctions that had been imposed against him, a government prosecutor told a jury on Wednesday in New York federal court.

Richard Chichakli deceived a Florida aviation company in an effort to sidestep a presidential executive order prohibiting him from conducting any transactions with U.S. businesses, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Everdale said at the start of Chichakli’s criminal trial.

“The defendant deceived legitimate business people in the United States; he violated the sanctions against him,” Everdale said. “And he did it for money.”

Chichakli, representing himself, told the court the government had concocted a false story about him because of his ties to Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death” for his purported willingness to ship arms to anyone who could pay him.

“It’s your job to try to separate the facts from the fiction,” Chichakli told the jurors. “A whole lot of this story is fiction.”

Towards the end of Chichakli’s opening statement he mentioned to the jury that you will hear a man by the name of Viktor Bout. He then added that he was the only person in the world that asked the U.S. government why they were targeting Bout and how he remained friends with Viktor Bout since they first met in 1995.

A court room sketch of Richard Chichakli during his Australian bail hearing.

A court room sketch of Richard Chichakli during his Australian bail hearing.

Witness’

Molly Miller from the Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] was a witness for the prosecutor as well as Michael Anthony Bachtel [not sure of the spelling of his last name] a DHS / ICE agent. The DHS agent interviewed Chichakli along with FBI agent Dennis Brady in April 2005. Chichakli having no legal experience or background and by his own admission being a Certified Public Accountant and aviation expert held his on in the court room. I would have to say that for a novice representing themselves and cross examining Molly Miller from OFAC and a DHS / ICE agent he was very impressive. There were little nuances and procedural mistakes made along the way but his questions and strategy were impressive. In fact, he did better than some lawyers that I have watched in other trials.

During his cross-examinations, Chichakli tried to hammer home the point that if someone is under OFAC sanctions like he was after 2005, that you can not even buy a hamburger from McDonald’s legally in this country. His point was that you have to apply for individual licenses to get access to your own blocked money. Chichakli then demonstrated that sometimes these licenses take many months as well as having OFAC representative Miller admit that the license approval process is discretionary.

In terms of the DHS / ICE agent, Chichakli got him to say in court that an investigation that begun in 2003 and did not formally end until 2012 ended in no charges being bought against him. Chichakli also mentioned all the accusations in the ‘affidavit’ that the government used to apply for a search warrant [which was granted] ended in no charges filed against him. If you look at the case name, U.S.A. v. Bout et al U.S.A. v. Bout et al as well as Chichakli’s opening statement as well as his strategy in his cross-examination of the witness’, he seems to be hammering home to the jury the ‘guilty by association’ scenario. Chichakli appears to be saying that since he was friends with and has remained friends with Viktor Bout, which he stated several times is a strictly political case, thus because of this association he claims he was targeted by the U.S. government and that they ‘dismantled my life’.

From where I am sitting, this trial like the curious case of Viktor Bout will not be dull. It will be full of interesting twists and turns. If I was a bookie, I wouldn’t want to lay odds on the outcome of this case, stay-tuned for more updates.

Contact Information:

Twitter: Dobroyeutro

dobroyeutro1@gmail.com

Further Reading:

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli’s First Interview Since His Extradition From Australia To A U.S. Prison

Exclusive: Viktor Bout’s Alleged Partner Richard Chichakli Rejects Government’s Plea Deal

Richard Chichakli’s Extradition to the U.S. is Imminent

Bail denied for Richard Chichakli: Inside The Court Room during The Hearing

World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli: “Australian Prison Is Trying To Poison Me”

World Exclusive: First Marion, IL. Prison Interview with Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness in the Never Ending Viktor Bout Saga

The Half-Truths and Missing Facts of Disarming Viktor Bout: The Chichakli – Schmidle Files

Exclusive: Richard Chichakli Speaks About the Viktor Bout Trial

Viktor Bout Convicted Over Terrorism Charges

Bout’s case – America’s hidden skeletons

Viktor Bout convicted in ‘arms smuggling’ case, may get life

Case closed? Final arguments heard in ‘Merchant of Death’ trial

Imaginary Crimes: The Never Ending Viktor Bout StoryThe DEA’s Conduit to Viktor Bout Gets a Slap on the Wrist: Andrew Smulian Sentenced to Five Years

Was Viktor Bout’s sentence just?

Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years