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
“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.”
“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. 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.”
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. 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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
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.”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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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:
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.”
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:
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:
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.