Newspaper Articles and Reactions to the first 2 Thai Cables
Wikileaks alleged Russia bribed Bout witnesses
Article by “The Nation” from 2/12/2010
US diplomats alleged that Russia bribed witnesses to block the
extradition of suspected international arms traffickers Viktor
Bout to the US, according to WikiLeaks cables as reported by
Diplomats in Bangkok alleged in cables released by WikiLeaks that Bout’s “Russian supporters” had paid witnesses
to give false testimony during his extradition hearing.
Dubbed the “merchant of death,” Bout was seized by the Thai authorities in March 2008 but only extradited to the
US on November 16 this year. The US accused him of conspiring to sell millions of dollars of weapons to
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels to kill Americans. The Kremlin strongly opposed his
In a cable written on February 13, 2009, US diplomats said that in the year after Bout’s arrest, extradition proceedings
in Thailand were “going in the way we want” – albeit at a “painfully slow” pace.
More recently, however, the case had taken a worryingly wrong turn: “There have been disturbing indications that
Bout’s … and Russian supporters have been using money and influence in an attempt to block extradition,” the
Bout’s claim was that he had flown to Thailand on official government business. American agents posing as Farc
rebels arrested him in a sting operation in a Bangkok hotel after he allegedly agreed to sell them millions of dollars
Guardian online reported that On February 12, 2009, the US ambassador in Bangkok, Eric John, raised his concerns
about the case in a meeting with Thailand’s prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva.
He warned that the extraditions proceedings had become “tainted as a result of the efforts by Bout’s associates to bribe
John said the Americans had uncovered several examples of influence and corruption. These included the false testimony
by a witness, an attempt to procure the personal secretary of the crown prince of Thailand to testify on Bout’s behalf, and ”
evidence of bribery schemes gathered throughout the world”.
The online reported Abhisit gave a noncommittal response, promising to examine any irregularities. In August 2009,
the judge ruled Bout could not be extradited in a stunning setback to the US embassy and its “Bout team”.
The ruling – appealed against by the US – prompted John to write a cable urging US President Barack Obama to
telephone Abhisit and initiate “a serious discussion of our concerns over the implications of the Bout verdict”.
“We believe Potus [president of the US] involvement on Bout would have a significant effect here,” he pleaded.
The ambassador suggested a gambit to shame Moscow if Bout was freed to go back to Russia. “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.”
Other cables reveal that Bout’s fleet of aircraft – allegedly used to deliver arms to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo –
are currently rusting at an airstrip in the United Arab Emirates. On 7 January 2010, the US consulate reported
several of his Soviet cargo planes were stuck at the “sleepy” Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) airport.
Article from The Guardian 1/12/2010
WikiLeaks cables allege Russia bribed Viktor
Bout witnessesArticle from Scoop - Independent News 5/12/2010Alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is flanked by Thai police. US diplomatsallege Russia bribed witnesses to block his extradition to the US, according toWikiLeaks cablesPhotograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex FeaturesRussia tried to block the extradition of the suspected international arms trafficker Viktor Bout from Thailand to America by bribing key witnesses, the US claims. Diplomats in Bangkok alleged in cables released by WikiLeaks that Bout's "Russian supporters" had paid witnesses to give false testimony during his extradition hearing. Dubbed the "merchant of death", Bout was seized by the Thai authorities in March 2008 but only extradited to the US on 16 November this year. The US accuses him of conspiring to sell millions of dollars of weapons to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels to kill Americans. The Kremlin strongly opposed his extradition. The Russian businessman, accused of running arms-trafficking networks around the world, maintains he is innocent in a case that turned into an undignified tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow. In a cable written on 13 February 2009, US diplomats said that in the year after Bout's arrest, extradition proceedings in Thailand were "going in the way we want" – albeit at a "painfully slow" pace. More recently, however, the case had taken a worryingly wrong turn: "There have been disturbing indications that Bout's ... and Russian supporters have been using money and influence in an attempt to block extradition," the diplomats reported. Bout's claim was that he had flown to Thailand on official government business. American agents posing as Farc rebels arrested him in a sting operation in a Bangkok hotel after he allegedly agreed to sell them millions of dollars of weapons. On 12 February 2009, the US ambassador in Bangkok, Eric John, raised his concerns about the case in a meeting with Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. He warned that the extraditions proceedings had become "tainted as a result of the efforts by Bout's associates to bribe Thai officials". John said the Americans had uncovered several examples of influence and corruption. These included the false testimony by a witness, an attempt to procure the personal secretary of the crown prince of Thailand to testify on Bout's behalf, and "evidence of bribery schemes gathered throughout the world". Abhisit gave a noncommittal response, promising to examine any irregularities. In August 2009, the judge ruled Bout could not be extradited in a stunning setback to the US embassy and its "Bout team". The ruling – appealed against by the US – prompted John to write a cable urging US President Barack Obama to telephone Abhisit and initiate "a serious discussion of our concerns over the implications of the Bout verdict". "We believe Potus [president of the US] involvement on Bout would have a significant effect here," he pleaded. The ambassador suggested a gambit to shame Moscow if Bout was freed to go back to Russia. "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." Other cables reveal that Bout's fleet of aircraft – allegedly used to deliver arms to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo – are currently rusting at an airstrip in the United Arab Emirates. On 7 January 2010, the US consulate reported several of his Soviet cargo planes were stuck at the "sleepy" Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) airport. "The airport is also working to distance itself from its reputation as a transport facilitator for clients such as international arms trafficker Viktor Bout, who used the RAK airport as a base of operations. The Wing Air aircraft once linked to Viktor Bout are grounded and effectively abandoned," it said. Another cable chronicled the unstoppable rise in Russia's international arms sales – up from $6.7bn (£4.3m) in 2006 to at least $8bn in 2007. It said Moscow exported large quantities of weapons to, among others, Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and was prepared to entertain the "grandiose regional visions" of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez. The then US ambassador in Moscow, William Burns, admitted that Russia was unwilling to establish "an expert-level dialogue on arms sales" with Washington and was "deeply cynical" about any US attempts to curb Russian arms exports. "Russia attaches importance to the volume of the arms export trade, to the diplomatic doors that weapon sales open, to the ill-gotten gains that these sales reap for corrupt senior officials and to the lever it provides the Russian government in stymieing American interests." On this topic the US had few instruments of persuasion, Burns added: "Russian officialdom and the public have little, if any, moral compunction about the arms trade, seeing it instead as a welcome symbol of Russia's resurgent power and strength in the world."
Wikileaks: Russian Bribes "Infected" Bout's
Extradition CaseSunday, 5 December 2010, 7:41 pm Article: Richard S. Ehrlich
Foreign Ministry to clarify WikiLeaks memos
Look at WikiLeaks’ Thailand impact
For the time being, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has survived the disclosure of confidential
cables from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok to the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. The two
cables filed in February were related to the high-profile case of Viktor Bout, who was eventually
extradited to the U.S. last month.
The cables revealed how the U.S. former ambassador Eric John put forwarded the U.S. government’s
concern on Thailand’s judicial process over Bout and the way Abhisit responded. The Thai leader
answered the envoy’s enquiries with straightforward replies and expressed a full confidence in the
country’s administration of justice. The lengthy process was criticized by both the U.S. and Russia.
The latter thought Washington interfered and pressured Bangkok.
For the Thais, most interesting was how Abhisit responded to the U.S. diplomatic enquiries at a
critical moment. It also begs comparisons with other Thai leaders in a similar situation. Those who
are familiar with Abhist know that he would be able to respond with factual answers to any
enquiries with confidence and charm (some would say with a deadpan but nice face).
At coffee shops around Bangkok last week, questions were raised on what would be the scenario
if the same incident took place under other Thai prime ministers, say, Thaksin Shinawatra or
Samak Sundrajavej who have a penchant for loose talks.
Answers were unanimous — there would be lots of comments spurned from these leaders’ reactions
by the U.S. diplomats. “No problem” would be the quick and universal response from the Thais to
all diplomatic enquiries.
These cables harked back to the past when WikiLeaks was not in existence. Indeed, one of the
most quoted leaks within the top Thai policymakers came from former Prime Minister Banharn
Silapa-archa during his ASEAN chair at the fifth summit in 1995.
During the three-day summit, the Thai prime minister used “No problem” several times as
replies to enquiries as well as new initiatives proposed by his ASEAN colleagues during
the closed door discussions.
One of the AEAN leaders was smart enough in structuring his dialogues and presentations during
the discussion in such ways that Banharn’s replies would always be “No problem.” There could
have been more of such answers if the two interpreters, who remained anonymous, did not skip
them. In the Thai language, “No problem” does not mean much at all. It is an assurance that the
statements are heard but need follow-ups diligently. However, as a reply, when translated into
English, means “yes” and all obligations that derive from affirmative answers must fall through.
Of course, there are a lot more to come — 2939 cables left in all, not to mention additional ones
from the U.S. consular office in Chiangmai. They covered the most colorful period of Thai politics
and culture from September 2004 under Thaksin up until Feb. 26, 2010, with more from 1989 and
1998. The partial database released with the listing of dates of release plus expected generalized
topics were based on coded “tags” but without any titles or text yet. Apart from Thaksin, other
prime ministers in power including Samak Sundraravej, Somchai Wongsawat and General Surayudh
Julanonda would also be featured in these cables. Certainly, views and wide-ranging references to
taboo institutions and issues could be expected.
Luckily WikiLeaks only contacted the Western media which dwell on key issues affecting U.S.
foreign policy and global politics. That was the key reason the cables linked to Bout were disclosed
in the first place as it depicted the tension of U.S.-Russia relations over his extradition.
However, the revelations made on the Western and Middle Eastern leaders have already increased
blood pressure among the Asian leaders. One must concur that the amount of cables generated by
the U.S. embassy on Thailand demonstrated the great American interest in the country. Compared
with other countries in the Asia-Pacific, Thailand ranked sixth after Japan (5697), Taipei (3456),
China (3297), Indonesia (3059). Other two ASEAN members, Vietnam and Burma, were ranked
2325 and 1864 respectively.
At this juncture, two issues must be discerned, who have access to the leaked cables and the timing
of release. Those who read them could easily stir up hornet nests in the country on every issue and
aspect. For instance, a Western journalist, who knows Thai politics and sensitivities very well, can
literally cause havoc over here by zeroing on specific references at any point during the past five and
half years. Even just one word of description of a particular person could have a great ramification
in the land of gossips and whispers.
The timing of release of next cables and subject matters can certainly add fuel to the fire concerning
domestic politics and institutions. The concerned authorities must be prepared for any fallout by acting
rationally not hysterically as in previous cases of unexpected revelations. Abhisit must consider himself
extremely lucky as his opponents so far were unable to capitalize on the leaks by attacking him. His
comments on Bout portrayed him in a good light because they showed consistency — no difference from
his published statements in the media during the trial. However, there is no guarantee that would be
the case in weeks and months to come. Nobody knows the entire contents of what the American
envoys put in black and white about him and his country.
For the time being, the Thai media and curious watchers of Thai politics would have to wait until
WikiLeaks placed all cables on its websites and unless some explosive comments on private individual
in Thailand are made public.
Article by Elitestv.com of 6/12/2010
Wikileaks and Thailand
What are specific Wikileaks revelations on Thailand? The most interesting so far cites the
case of Russian businessman and alleges arms smuggler Viktor Bout who faced trial in Thailand
before being extradited to the United States this year. Documents from the Wikileaks revealed
the concern of the U.S. about the attempt of Bout’s associates to bribe local Thai officials.
Below is a sample dispatch from the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, uploaded by Wikileaks
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.
Citing news reports, Bangkok Pundit summarized the total number of secret cables referring
…there are 2,941 cables from the US Embassy in Bangkok and another 278 from the
Consulate in Chiang Mai – slightly higher figures are also quoted elsewhere. You will
also have cables from the State Department about Thailand. There could be some
information in the cables that would be very embarrassing and revealing particularly
on reports by US Embassy staff after meetings with senior Thai officials and members
of the elite.
Worried that Wikileaks would be permanently inaccessible in Thailand, the website Thai Cables
was established to continue providing relevant information about Wikileaks documents
We do not believe in censorship and think that everyone in Thailand should get access
to any information available on the internet, which also includes Wikileaks. This is the
reason for this blog.
How many cables about Thailand are expected to be published by Wikileaks
A total of 2985 (other sources state 3516) Cables sent from the US Embassy in Bangkok
will be published. While between 1989 and end of 2004 only 7 Cables will be leaked, the
number increases 2005 immensely. Until end of February 2010 an average of approx. 580
Cables are sent a year which means 1 to 2 Cables a day.
They cover a wide range of topics from Arms Controls and Disarment to Refugees and
Human Rights Issues, Democratization, Human Trafficking, Nuclear Issues, Terrorism
and Military Operations, Foreign Trade, Internal Government Affairs, Relations between
Saudi Arabia and Thailand, Foreign Investments, Intellectual Property Rights and even
Thai Prime Minister and Thai Rak Thai. Even Cables talking about War Crimes, Thai
Elections, Intelligence, Corruption, Political Parties will be published.
Musings from Thailand published the statement of outoging American Ambassador Eric John
I cannot vouch for the authenticity of any one of these documents. But I can say that the
United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be
confidential. And we condemn it. Diplomats must engage in frank discussions with
their colleagues, and they must be assured that these discussions will remain private.