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Bangkok Pundit on WikiLeaks: US ‘can’t trust Thailand on extraditions’

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Source: http://asiancorrespondent.com/bangkok-pundit-blog/us-embassy-we-cannot-trust-the-thai-court-on-high-profile-extraditions-[cablegate]

BP: There was mention of the submarine deal in a NYT story that BP blogged about here where a Thai naval officer testified that “he had been told to expect a Russian expert to assess whether a particular Thai port was suitable for docking submarines” and that an Russian involved in the procurement came to Thailand and was arrested (ie implying it was Bout). Interesting to know the US says it is false (seemingly confirmed by a letter mentioned in the second cable mentioned below). It was a Thai naval officer who testified too…. BP has mentioned in the past based on what BP has heard and that is the Russians were very involved before the lower court ruling.

¶7. (C) We will make clear to the RTG that we expect Bout to remain incarcerated during the appeals process, as specified under Thai law and the August 11 court ruling. Given that the same judge will rule on any bail motions brought by Bout (we expect Bout’s attorneys to push hard on bail), however, his custody status during the pendency of the appeal is a genuine concern. We also intend to make clear to the Thai government (the Ambassador is seeking to call FM Kasit, in Malaysia August 13-14 on a working visit, and will engage the highest available MFA official in Bangkok)that we expect this deficient ruling to receive a comprehensive and meaningful review by the appellate court. Moreover, the Ambassador plans to tell Kasit and other senior Thai officials that, given that the Thai government arrested Bout and sought his extradition to the U.S., the Thai government should be as alarmed by the judge’s ruling as we are. Therefore, we would encourage the RTG to issue a public statement expressing disappointment in the judge’s decision, its intention to win on appeal, and a reiteration of Thailand’s commitment to both the struggle against international terrorism and to its extensive law enforcement relationship with the United States. The Ambassador intends to make similar points to newly appointed NSC Secretary General Tawee and to key figures at the PalaceWithout being counter-productively heavy-handed, we will make clear that we see Thai executive branch reaction to the ruling as a test of the relationship.

BP: Making the point to key figures at the Palace. Why ever would there be a need to do that given that key figures would never be able to play a role given they do not interfere with politics as we have been told many times (we haven’t been misled, have we?)

Agree with John that the lower court ruling was dubious as blogged about here.

Cable continues:

¶8. (C) At the same time, however, we believe it is important to remember that our partners in the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Attorney General, the Foreign Ministry, and even the Royal Thai Navy, largely did everything we asked them to do on the Bout case, including going the extra mile to facilitate our requests. Our posture and actions thus should make clear that we are disappointed with the judge’s ruling but not with Thai government cooperation in the Bout case.

¶9. (C) That said, coming on the heels of the September 2008 Thai appellate ruling affirming a lower court’s denial of our request to extradite Iranian Jamshid Ghassemi, who was in Thailand to procure controlled technology in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, the question has to be asked whether we can count on the Thai courts to do the right thing on high-profile extradition cases that will affect Thailand’s relations with third countries (we continue to have a perfect record on routine extraditions from Thailand to the United States). Our reluctant conclusion is that we cannot.

¶10. (S) The Department will recall that in February of this year, after significant indications that the Russians were trying to use bribes to influence the outcome of the case, the Ambassador made representations to Prime Minister Abhisit (reftel) that we expected the process to be free of inappropriate influence and Abhisit undertook to do so. The Ambassador also intervened at the same time with Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and the Royal Thai Naval Commander Khamtorn Pumhiran to insist that false testimony by xxxxxxxxx  (that Bout had been in Thailand as part of a routine naval procurement) be rebutted. The Thai Navy subsequently issued a letter to that effect. We will remind the Thais of their commitment to a clean process and ask that they assure us again on the front.

BP: Telling that the US Ambassador doesn’t think they can trust the court in regards to high profile extradition cases that will affect Thailand’s relations with third countries. One hope he isn’t implying that politics somehow influenced the lower court ruling and thus casting aspersions about the Thai judicial system (a Bangkok Post editorial denouncing the Ambassador is probably being drafted now)….

¶11. (C) Given the above, we are undertaking the following steps here in Bangkok, most of which should also be reflected when the Department calls in Thai Ambassador Don Pramuwinai, a move we fully support: — The Ambassador will immediately seek a meeting with Foreign Minister Kasit and other appropriate senior Thai officials to make clear that, while we appreciate the cooperation on Bout over the past year and a half, we are disappointed and mystified by the judge’s ruling, which is flawed on several key points. — In particular, the judge’s characterization of the FARC as a legitimate political actor would suggest that insurgent groups in southern Thailand are likewise political in nature, perhaps outside the scope of Thailand’s new counterterrorism laws. The ruling also suggests that anyone seeking to send them arms from a third country could not be extradited to Thailand on political grounds. – Moreover, the judge’s misguided analysis of the “dual criminality” standard suggests that fugitives cannot be extradited from Thailand unless a Thai court actually had jurisdiction over the alleged crime, not whether the alleged conduct is viewed as criminal conduct under the laws of both countries. This decision comes at the same time Thailand is pursuing extradition of fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra for abuse of power/corruption-related charges; the judge’s ruling would also seem to undermine RTG positions in their Thaksin extradition effort. — Therefore, we expect that the AG’s office will vigorously pursue the appeal of the ruling and that Bout will remain incarcerated during the pendency of the appeal. — We seek assurances that the case will be afforded a comprehensive and meaningful appellate review, presumably handled by serious, experienced Thai judges. (Note: Appeals are normally handled by a panel of three judges. End Note.) — We ask that the Thai government issue a statement making clear its own disappointment with the judge’s ruling and reiterating its commitment to the fight against international terrorism and to the law enforcement relationship with the U.S. — We will continue to make our points to the press and we are pulling together a “FARC fact sheet” for public distribution that we will send in to Washington for comment and clearance today.

BP: John clearly knows how to push Kasit’s buttons by including the reference to Thaksin…. How can the choice of judges be affected and why would it matter given all Thai judges are honest……

¶12. (C) We suggest that Washington strongly consider the following actions: – In addition to the Department calling in the Thai Ambassador, we recommend that Attorney General Holder also call him in. AG Holder could point out the extensive U.S. commitment of law enforcement resources to Thailand (DEA and other), as well as our judicial training efforts, and that a statement from the RTG as outlined above would be very helpful as the U.S. decides where best to commit its law enforcement resources around the world. A senior DEA official might also wish to sit in to highlight the massive DEA commitment to Thailand. (Note: Our DOJ Attache who has led our legal efforts on Bout here will be in Washington on August 20-21. End Note.) – Discussion of a POTUS telcon to PM Abhisit has been under way for some time; they have not spoken in the seven months both have been in office. We suggest that the call be accelerated and that it include a serious discussion of our concerns over the implications of the Bout verdict, as outlined above. We believe POTUS involvement on Bout would have significant effect here. — We suggest Washington engage the Colombian government on the implications of the Bout verdict. We suggest inquiring whether Colombia considers the FARC to be a terrorist organization, whether it would be willing to submit a brief in the appeals process, and also make public statements to that effect. We also suggest exploring whether Colombia would be willing to ask Thailand for Bout’s extradition while he (hopefully) is still in detention during the appeals process. (Note: There is no Colombian Embassy in Bangkok; the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur covers Thailand. We understand the Thais cover Colombia from their Embassy in Lima. End note.) It would be useful if the Government of Colombia also raised its concerns in Moscow. — We also suggest exploring the possibility of whether governments whose citizens have borne the bloody results of Bout’s activities over the years, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo, would be willing to publicly express dismay/engage the Thai government on the verdict and whether any affected government would be willing to ask for his extradition. – While the Bout focus is now on Thailand, this is at heart a U.S.-Russian matter. The Department may wish to make clear to Moscow our concerns on Bout’s activities and seek assurances that they will cease. Also, we should consider asking the Russians to prosecute Bout if, in the end, he walks here in Thailand. At the very least perhaps we could force the Russians to publicly refuse to do so. — The Thai ruling seems inconsistent with several United Nations determinations on Bout’s nature over the years (see below). We suggest our USUN call in the Thai Permrep and lay out how we view the issues in terms of Thailand’s standing with the United Nations. Better yet would be for the appropriate UN official to call in the Thai Permrep and seek an explanation of how the verdict can be justified in light of Thailand’s support of relevant UN resolutions: – UNSCR 1521 (2003) – Liberia – UNSCR 1343 (March 2001) – Liberia – Report of Experts Panel under 1343 – Final Monitoring Report on Angola Sanctions (2000)

BP: Most of this is not surprising – well at least from what BP has heard. The US role behind-the-scenes increased dramatically after the lower court ruling after taking a more hands-off-approach earlier on…. It is pity we don’t have the Russian cables too.

BP: Follow up Article of 2/12/2010

Wikileaks: Whose testimony was being procured?

http://asiancorrespondent.com/bangkok-pundit-blog/whose-testimony-was-being-procured

Written by thaicables

December 2, 2010 at 3:17 am

09BANGKOK1998 2009-08-13 09:09 2010-12-01 23:11 SECRET Embassy Bangkok

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NEXT STEPS ON THE VIKTOR BOUT EXTRADITION CASE 

IN THE WAKE OF LOWER COURT DEFEAT

VZCZCXRO1498 OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM DE RUEHBK #1998/01 2250918 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 130918Z AUG 09 FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7869 INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA IMMEDIATE 0839 RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 3439 RUEHFN/AMEMBASSY FREETOWN IMMEDIATE 0009 RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA IMMEDIATE 0029 RUEHMV/AMEMBASSY MONROVIA IMMEDIATE 0171 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 1633 RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 5442 RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RUEAWJL/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BANGKOK 001998 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR BADER 

EO 12958 DECL: 08/13/2019
TAGS PTER, KCRM, TH, RS, CO
SUBJECT: NEXT STEPS ON THE VIKTOR BOUT EXTRADITION CASE IN
THE WAKE OF LOWER COURT DEFEAT
REF: BANGKOK 385 (NOTAL)

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary and comment. The disappointing August 11 Thai Lower Court 
ruling against the extradition of Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, and 
its dubious legal reasoning, requires a multi-pronged effort to seek a 
successful reversal during the appeals process. The lead judge’s foray 
into foreign policy, rejecting the terrorism label and in effect embracing 
the FARC’s activities as purely political in nature, not criminal or acts 
of terrorism, has implications for Thailand. His confusion of the “dual 
criminality” concept with jurisdictional issues similarly raises questions 
for efforts by Thailand to extradite fugitive former PM Thaksin to face justice. 
The Embassy is working with Thai authorities to file an appeal of the lower 
court’s ruling and to press home the implications of the court ruling were 
Bout to walk free. In the early afternoon on August 13, we were assured 
that the notice of intention to appeal has been filed.


2. (C) At the same time, the Embassy recommends the State Department, 
Attorney General Holder, and the US Mission to the UN in New York engage 
the Thai Ambassador in Washington and the Thai PermRep in New York in parallel. 
In addition, the Department should seriously consider asking Belgium, which 
issued an arrest warrant for Bout in 2002 for money laundering and conspiracy, 
Colombia, in the case of the FARC, and African countries which have suffered 
greatly from Bout’s arms trade in the past to weigh in with the RTG. Finally, 
we recommend consideration of laying down a marker in Moscow about Bout, 
looking forward to the possibility that Bout may end up back in Russia were 
the appeal of the Lower Court ruling might not succeed. End Summary and comment.


Thai Lower Court rules against Bout extradition
--------------------------------------------- -- 

3. (C) On August 11, the judge in the Viktor Bout extradition case ruled 
against U.S. and Thai government efforts to extradite Bout to the United 
States. Two key elements of his reasoning were: that the FARC in Colombia, 
to which Bout was conspiring to send weapons, was a political rather than a 
terrorist group; and that the “dual criminality” standard of our extradition 
treaty with Thailand had not been met since Bout could not be prosecuted in 
Thailand on the charges which the U.S. wants him to face in the U.S. In 
our view, the judge was wrong on both counts.


4. (C) After the verdict, as the Department has seen, the DCM spoke on the 
record to press outside the court room and expressed disappointment and 
mystification over the ruling and stated that we would fully support RTG 
efforts to appeal the decision. We have continued the same themes in 
subsequent interactions with the press.


Engaging the Thai immediately
----------------------------- 



5. (C) The Ambassador called Foreign Minister Kasit immediately after the 
verdict on August 11 and expressed deep disappointment, noting that the 
verdict was not justified on legal grounds and that the judge had clearly 
been in error on several key points. He reminded Kasit that over the past 
year and a half since Bout’s arrest in Bangkok, the USG had repeatedly 
underlined the importance of the case, all the way up to the Secretary of 
State and POTUS levels. In the short-term, the Ambassador told Kasit, we 
need the Foreign Ministry to do its part in forwarding the necessary 
documentation to the Attorney-General’s office so that the intent to 
appeal can be filed in the requisite forty-eight hours. (Note: Although 
the court’s ruling and a new extradition law specify that the appeal must 
be filed within 72 hours, the applicable extradition law sets forth the 
shorter time frame, which we have followed.) Kasit assured the Ambassador 
that he had already instructed his legal department to do so. The Ambassador 
also told Kasit that we expected Bout would remain in detention during the 
appeals process. The MFA’s Legal and Treaties Department faxed the Attorney 
General’s office late evening August 11 supporting the appeal; at the request 
of the Office of the Attorney General, the Embassy sent a diplomatic note to 
the MFA and the OAG on August 13 requesting that the RTG appeal the lower 
court verdict prior to the forty-eight hour deadline (note: the RTG was 
closed August 12 for a National Holiday, the Queen’s Birthday.) 
At approximately 1:25 p.m. on August 13, the MFA and OAG advised the 
Embassy that the requisite notice of intention to appeal had been filed 
and received by the court.


Next steps
---------- 

6. (C) The Embassy’s “Bout team” met August 13 to review next steps that 
will help us prevail on appeal. Our immediate priority was to ensure that 
the notice of intent to appeal was filed on time (within 48 hours of the 
verdict) and that the appeal itself is filed within thirty days of the verdict.


7. (C) We will make clear to the RTG that we expect Bout to remain 
incarcerated during the appeals process, as specified under Thai law 
and the August 11 court ruling. Given that the same judge will rule 
on any bail motions brought by Bout (we expect Bout’s attorneys to push 
hard on bail), however, his custody status during the pendency of the 
appeal is a genuine concern. We also intend to make clear to the Thai 
government (the Ambassador is seeking to call FM Kasit, in Malaysia 
August 13-14 on a working visit, and will engage the highest available 
MFA official in Bangkok) that we expect this deficient ruling to receive 
a comprehensive and meaningful review by the appellate court. Moreover, 
the Ambassador plans to tell Kasit and other senior Thai officials that, 
given that the Thai government arrested Bout and sought his extradition 
to the U.S., the Thai government should be as alarmed by the judge’s 
ruling as we are. Therefore, we would encourage the RTG to issue a public 
statement expressing disappointment in the judge’s decision, its intention 
to win on appeal, and a reiteration of Thailand’s commitment to both the 
struggle against international terrorism and to its extensive law 
enforcement relationship with the United States. The Ambassador intends 
to make similar points to newly appointed NSC Secretary General Tawee and 
to key figures at the Palace. Without being counter-productively 
heavy-handed, we will make clear that we see Thai executive branch 
reaction to the ruling as a test of the relationship.

8. (C) At the same time, however, we believe it is important to remember 
that our partners in the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Attorney 
General, the Foreign Ministry, and even the Royal Thai Navy, largely did 
everything we asked them to do on the Bout case, including going the 
extra mile to facilitate our requests. Our posture and actions thus should 
make clear that we are disappointed with the judge’s ruling but not with 
Thai government cooperation in the Bout case.


9. (C) That said, coming on the heels of the September 2008 Thai appellate 
ruling affirming a lower court’s denial of our request to extradite Iranian 
Jamshid Ghassemi, who was in Thailand to procure controlled technology in 
violation of the Arms Export Control Act, the question has to be asked 
whether we can count on the Thai courts to do the right thing on high-profile 
extradition cases that will affect Thailand’s relations with third countries 
(we continue to have a perfect record on routine extraditions from Thailand 
to the United States). Our reluctant conclusion is that we cannot.


10. (S) The Department will recall that in February of this year, after 
significant indications that the Russians were trying to use bribes to 
influence the outcome of the case, the Ambassador made representations 
to Prime Minister Abhisit (reftel) that we expected the process to be 
free of inappropriate influence and Abhisit undertook to do so. The
Ambassador also intervened at the same time with Defense Minister Prawit 
Wongsuwan and the Royal Thai Naval Commander Khamtorn Pumhiran to insist 
that false testimony by xxxxxxxxx  (that Bout had been in Thailand as part 
of a routine naval procurement) be rebutted. The Thai Navy subsequently 
issued a letter to that effect. We will remind the Thais of their commitment 
to a clean process and ask that they assure us again on the front.


What We are Doing here/What We Suggest Washington Do

--------------------------------------------- ------- 

11. (C) Given the above, we are undertaking the following steps here in 
Bangkok, most of which should also be reflected when the Department calls 
in Thai Ambassador Don Pramuwinai, a move we fully support: -- The Ambassador 
will immediately seek a meeting with Foreign Minister Kasit and other 
appropriate senior Thai officials to make clear that, while we appreciate 
the cooperation on Bout over the past year and a half, we are disappointed 
and mystified by the judge’s ruling, which is flawed on several key points.
 
-- In particular, the judge’s characterization of the FARC as a legitimate 
political actor would suggest that insurgent groups in southern Thailand are 
likewise political in nature, perhaps outside the scope of Thailand’s new 
counterterrorism laws. The ruling also suggests that anyone seeking to send 
them arms from a third country could not be extradited to Thailand on 
political grounds. -- Moreover, the judge’s misguided analysis of the 
“dual criminality” standard suggests that fugitives cannot be extradited 
from Thailand unless a Thai court actually had jurisdiction over the 
alleged crime, not whether the alleged conduct is viewed as criminal 
conduct under the laws of both countries. This decision comes at the same 
time Thailand is pursuing extradition of fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra 
for abuse of power/corruption-related charges; the judge’s ruling would also 
seem to undermine RTG positions in their Thaksin extradition effort. -- 
Therefore, we expect that the AG’s office will vigorously pursue the appeal 
of the ruling and that Bout will remain incarcerated during the pendency of 
the appeal. -- We seek assurances that the case will be afforded a comprehensive 
and meaningful appellate review, presumably handled by serious, experienced Thai 
judges. (Note: Appeals are normally handled by a panel of three judges. End Note.) 


-- We ask that the Thai government issue a statement making clear its own 
disappointment with the judge’s ruling and reiterating its commitment to the fight 
against international terrorism and to the law enforcement relationship with the U.S. 
-- We will continue to make our points to the press and we are pulling together a 
“FARC fact sheet” for public distribution that we will send in to Washington for comment 
and clearance today.

12. (C) We suggest that Washington strongly consider the following actions: 
-- In addition to the Department calling in the Thai Ambassador, we recommend that 
Attorney General Holder also call him in. AG Holder could point out the extensive U.S. 
commitment of law enforcement resources to Thailand (DEA and other), as well as our 
judicial training efforts, and that a statement from the RTG as outlined above would 
be very helpful as the U.S. decides where best to commit its law enforcement 
resources around the world. A senior DEA official might also wish to sit in to highlight 
the massive DEA commitment to Thailand. (Note: Our DOJ Attache who has led our legal 
efforts on Bout here will be in Washington on August 20-21. End Note.) 


-- Discussion of a POTUS telcon to PM Abhisit has been under way for some time; they 
have not spoken in the seven months both have been in office. We suggest that the call 
be accelerated and that it include a serious discussion of our concerns over the 
implications of the Bout verdict, as outlined above. We believe POTUS involvement on 
Bout would have significant effect here. 


-- We suggest Washington engage the Colombian government on the implications of the Bout 
verdict. We suggest inquiring whether Colombia considers the FARC to be a terrorist 
organization, whether it would be willing to submit a brief in the appeals process, 
and also make public statements to that effect. We also suggest exploring whether 
Colombia would be willing to ask Thailand for Bout’s extradition while he (hopefully) 
is still in detention during the appeals process. (Note: There is no Colombian Embassy 
in Bangkok; the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur covers Thailand. We understand the Thais cover 
Colombia from their Embassy in Lima. End note.) It would be useful if the Government 
of Colombia also raised its concerns in Moscow. -- We also suggest exploring the 
possibility of whether governments whose citizens have borne the bloody results of 
Bout’s activities over the years, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo, would be 
willing to publicly express dismay/engage the Thai government on the verdict and w
hether any affected government would be willing to ask for his extradition. 


-- While the Bout focus is now on Thailand, this is at heart a U.S.-Russian matter. 
The Department may wish to make clear to Moscow our concerns on Bout’s activities 
and seek assurances that they will cease. Also, we should consider asking the 
Russians to prosecute Bout if, in the end, he walks here in Thailand. At the very 
least perhaps we could force the Russians to publicly refuse to do so. 


-- The Thai ruling seems inconsistent with several United Nations determinations 
on Bout’s nature over the years (see below). We suggest our USUN call in the Thai 
Permrep and lay out how we view the issues in terms of Thailand’s standing with 
the United Nations. Better yet would be for the appropriate UN official to call 
in the Thai Permrep and seek an explanation of how the verdict can be justified 
in light of Thailand’s support of relevant UN resolutions: 
- UNSCR 1521 (2003) 
- Liberia - UNSCR 1343 (March 2001) 
- Liberia - Report of Experts Panel under 1343 
- Final Monitoring Report on Angola Sanctions (2000)


-- Finally, despite the listing by the US and EU of the FARC as a terrorist 
organization, we understand that the FARC is not listed as such by the UN. 
A move to have the FARC listed formally by the UN would assist the effort 
to keep Bout in custody. JOHN


Source: http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09BANGKOK1998.html

Written by thaicables

December 2, 2010 at 3:02 am

09BANGKOK385 2009-02-13 10:10 2010-12-01 23:11 SECRET Embassy Bangkok

with one comment


AMBASSADOR ENGAGES PM ABHISIT AND DEFENSE MINISTER

VZCZCXYZ0000 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHBK #0385/01 0441019 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 131019Z FEB 09 FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6044 INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 1568 RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 5408 RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC IMMEDIATE RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE S E C R E T BANGKOK 000385 SIPDIS EO 12958 DECL: 02/13/2019 TAGS PTER, KCRM, TH SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES PM ABHISIT AND DEFENSE MINISTER ON VIKTOR BOUT EXTRADITION CASE Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 1. (S) Summary. During a February 12 meeting, the Ambassador raised with Prime  Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the ongoing extradition case concerning Russian  international arms trafficker Viktor Bout and serious concerns that Bout’s  associates had been able to influence testimony given by [xxxxxxxxxx].  Abhisit told the Ambassador that he would address any “irregularities” in the case  through “appropriate channels.” The Ambassador also raised USG concerns with  the xxxxxxxxx testimony during a February 13 introductory call with Defense  Minister Prawit Wongsuwan. Prawit committed to looking into the testimony in  order to determine the truth.   2. (S) Comment. Since Viktor Bout’s arrest in Bangkok almost a year ago,  moving towards a successful extradition to the United States has been at the  top of our bilateral agenda here. In addition to Embassy efforts over the months,  President Bush raised it with then-Prime Minister Samak during his August 2008  visit to Bangkok. Overall, our sense has been that while the extradition  proceedings have been painfully slow (and have required constant nurturing by  our DOJ and DEA personnel every step of the way), they are moving in the  direction we want. Lately, however, there have been disturbing indications  that Bout’s xxxxxxxxxx and Russian supporters have been using money and  influence in an attempt to block extradition. The most egregious example was  the false testimony of xxxxxxxxxx that Bout was in Thailand as part of  government-to-government submarine deal. Thus, we felt it was time to once  again raise the matter at the top of the government and make clear that,  while we understand the judicial process must take its course without  political interference, we insist that the process be free of corruption  and undue influence. We will continue to do so in the months ahead. We  understand AG Holder may soon call the Thai AG to review the case  (as previous AG Mukasey did three times in addition to his visit to Bangkok  last summer). Combined with our efforts this week, the call will make for  an important one-two punch. End Summary and Comment. ABHISIT PROMISES TO LOOK INTO IRREGULARITIES IN BOUT CASE --------------------------------------------- ------------ 3. (S) During a February 12 meeting at the Parliament, the Ambassador  raised with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the ongoing extradition case  concerning international arms trafficker Viktor Bout. (Note: Bout faces  terrorism-related charges in federal court in New York for conspiring  to sell millions of dollars of weapons to the FARC for use in killing  Americans. He has remained in custody in Bangkok since his arrest on  March 6, 2008. End note.) The Ambassador noted that, while the U.S. and  Thailand enjoy a strong extradition relationship, our countries must  ensure that the bilateral extradition treaty worked in our most  important cases, such as those involving terrorism. In this regard,  the Ambassador emphasized to Abhisit that the extradition case against  Bout is a high priority for the United States. Citing the United Nations’  sanctions against Bout, the Ambassador also noted that the extradition  case is one of global importance. Abhisit told that Ambassador that he  believed that his office had limited means to affect ongoing extradition  proceedings, stating that the judicial system was designed to afford  due process to the parties and expressing an unwillingness to be seen  as “overruling” this process, or “helping one side.”   4. (S) Expressing growing concern about the extradition proceedings,  the Ambassador then described evidence showing that the extradition  proceedings against Bout have become tainted as a result of the efforts  by Bout’s associates to bribe Thai officials. In particular, the  Ambassador detailed false testimony on Bout’s behalf from xxxxxxxxxx  to the effect that Bout came to Thailand to conduct official business  with the Thai government relating to a submarine project; recorded  statements by a Thai associate of Bout that he had procured xxxxxxxxxx  to testify on Bout’s behalf; evidence of bribery schemes gathered  throughout the world; and a scheme to arrest and thereby embarrass  two U.S. diplomats - i.e., DEA agents assigned to the Bout  investigation - on meritless charges of participating in illegal  recordings of Bout on the day of his arrest. If the xxxxxxxxxxxx  false testimony remained unrebutted, the court could possibly deny  extradition based on an erroneous conclusion that RTG had legitimate  dealings with Bout, a U.N.-sanctioned arms trafficker. 5. (S) In light of this evidence, the Ambassador asked the Prime  Minster to take steps to ensure that the proceedings in Bout’s extradition  case were free from the taint of bribery and corruption. In particular,  the Ambassador suggested that testimony from an authoritative witness  from the Royal Thai Navy or the Ministry of Defense should be offered to  repudiate the xxxxxxxxxx statement and make clear that the RTG supports  the extradition request. The Ambassador also reminded the PM of the  recent case of Jamshid Ghassemi, in which the Thai authorities denied  a U.S. extradition request under apparent pressure from Iran, and  stressed the importance of avoiding a similar result here. (Note:  Ghassemi is under indictment in San Diego for violations of the Arms  Export Control Act and money laundering relating to his conspiracy to  acquire accelerometers used in missile navigation. End note.) The  Ambassador also stated that Thailand’s failure to ensure an extradition  process in Bout that is free from corruption and undue influence would  constitute a major setback to the bilateral relations between the  U.S. and Thailand, especially in the area of law enforcement. 6. (S) After listening to the evidence provided by the Ambassador  suggesting that bribery had infected the Bout proceedings, Abhisit  committed to addressing any “irregularities” in the extradition  case through the “appropriate channels.” At the conclusion of the  meeting, the Prime Minister sought the identity of the individuals  involved in the bribery schemes, and the DOJ Attache, who  accompanied the Ambassador to the meeting, supplied an aide to  the PM with the requested information. DEFENSE MINISTER COMMITS TO LOOKING INTO TESTIMONY --------------------------------------------- ----- 7. (S) During a February 13 introductory call, the Ambassador  highlighted to Minister of Defense Prawit Wongsuwan the importance  the USG places on the Bout extradition proceedings. The Ambassador  noted that the USG understood that extradition cases take time and  that the USG respected the Thai judicial system, but we were  concerned about efforts by Bout to improperly influence the proceedings.  Of particular concern was the false testimony by xxxxxxxxx the  Ambassador told Prawit. Thexxxxxxxxxx testimony was not true and, as  such, it was very important that the Thai Navy or the Ministry of  Defense correct this falsehood with testimony to the court. Doing so  would ensure that the proceedings were kept on track and would  publicly clarify that the Thai military was not associated with a  U.N.-sanctioned arms trafficker. Prawit told the Ambassador that  he was unfamiliar with the case but that he would give priority  to looking into the issue to determine the truth regarding the  testimony ofxxxxxxxxx. The Defense Minister also committed to  examining a non-paper with more details on the testimony of  xxxxxxxxxxx that the DOJ Attache provided to an aide to Prawit. JOHN Source: http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/02/09BANGKOK385.html

Written by thaicables

December 2, 2010 at 2:50 am

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