thaicables – It's Your Right to know the Truth!

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

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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

One Response

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  1. Hey, just thought about the truth in the matter and I just wanted to show my support. Really helps put things in perspective. Warm regards, Susan Vaughn.

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    December 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm


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