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

Newspaper Articles and Reactions to the first 2 Thai Cables

leave a comment »

Wikileaks alleged Russia bribed Bout witnesses

Article by “The Nation” from 2/12/2010

Source: http://goo.gl/u1cZv

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

Guardian online.

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

extradition.

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

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.

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

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”.

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 witnesses

Suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout
Alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is flanked by Thai police. US diplomats
allege Russia bribed witnesses to block his extradition to the US, according to
WikiLeaks cables
Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex Features
Russia 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."
Article from Scoop - Independent News 5/12/2010

Wikileaks: Russian Bribes "Infected" Bout's

Extradition Case

Sunday, 5 December 2010, 7:41 pm Article: Richard S. Ehrlich
Wikileaks: Russian Bribes "Infected" Bout's Extradition Case to U.S. By Richard S. Ehrlich BANGKOK, Thailand -- The U.S. Ambassador to Thailand warned that bribes, lies and a  plot to have two U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested in Bangkok had  "infected" the extradition trial of alleged Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout to New  York, and the envoy suggested Thailand arrange testimony to correct the problems,  according to two U.S. cables released by Wikileaks. "There have been disturbing indications that Bout's xxxxxxxxxx and Russian supporters  have been using money and influence in an attempt to block extradition," said a cable  by U.S. Ambassador Eric John, with "x's" masking the identity of who the ambassador  suspected. "The most egregious example was the false testimony of xxxxxxxxxx that Bout was in  Thailand as part of government-to-government submarine deal," his cable said,  apparently indicating a different concealed name. "Bout's associates had been able to influence testimony given by xxxxxxxxxx,"  said the cable released by Wikileaks on Wednesday (December 1). Bangkok later extradited Mr. Bout on November 16 to New York where he is awaiting  trial for an alleged plot to kill Americans in Colombia with surface-to-air missiles  and other weapons, which he agreed in 2008 to sell to the two DEA agents who posed  as guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Mr. Bout pled not guilty in New York after Russia's foreign ministry denounced  Thailand for the "illegal extradition." Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva denied Moscow's complaint that Bangkok kneeled  to U.S. pressure, and said his decision to expel the Russian was correct. The U.S. cable, titled: "SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES PM ABHISIT AND DEFENSE MINISTER  ON VIKTOR BOUT EXTRADITION CASE," was flagged "SECRET BANGKOK 000385," dated February  13, 2009, and "Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John." Copies were sent to the U.S. State Department, the American Embassy in Moscow, the  U.S. Mission to the United Nations, DEA's headquarters in Washington, the U.S. Defense  Secretary, Department of Justice, Pacific Command in Hawaii, the CIA and National  Security Council. "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," the  cable said, without elaborating on how many Thais were involved or their role in the case. In a second cable, dated August 13, 2009, Ambassador John said there were  "significant indications that the Russians were trying to use bribes to influence the  outcome of the case." The first cable's use of the past tense verb -- "infected" -- made it appear that at  least one bribe may have already been paid by February 2009 when it said: "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 [U.S. Department of Justice]  Attache, who accompanied the Ambassador to the meeting, supplied an aide to the PM  with the requested information," the first cable said. "In particular, the Ambassador detailed...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," the first cable said without elaborating. During their February 12, 2009 meeting, Ambassador John complained to Thailand's  prime minister that Bangkok failed to extradite an Iranian to America in 2008,  and warned against making the same mistake twice. "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." Mr. Ghassemi is under indictment in San Diego, California, for alleged violations  of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and money laundering, relating to his  conspiracy to acquire accelerometers which could be used in missile navigation. The next day, Ambassador John met Thailand's defense minister. "During a February 13 introductory call, the Ambassador highlighted to Minister  of Defense Prawit Wongsuwan the importance the USG [U.S. government] places on  the Bout extradition proceedings," the first cable said. The submarine mentioned in the first cable referred to confusing statements  during Mr. Bout's trial when a Thai reportedly testified that he thought an  unidentified Russian would arrive in Bangkok to discuss a possible submarine  sale to Thailand -- but it was unclear if Mr. Bout was the Russian involved,  or if the deal even existed. Ambassador John also asked Thailand to arrange someone to testify at the  trial to correct the problems. "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 [Royal Thai  government] supports the extradition request," the first cable said. Mr. Bout's lawyer denied his client was the unidentified Russian linked to  any submarine, and the topic disappeared from subsequent updates on the case. The last word of both cables is simply "JOHN" indicating Ambassador John  signed off on the wording, with some references to himself in third person. "When he (Ambassador John) came to meet me, he did not have any doubts or put  pressure," Prime Minister Abhisit said on Thursday (December 2), responding  to the release of the cable by Wikileaks. "He simply expressed concern over reports that 'influential people' may try  to interfere in the case. "I gave assurances to him that there will be no interference on the case,  and if the U.S. diplomat has any doubts, the Thai government will verify  the case for him," Mr. Abhisit said. In the August 13, 2009 cable, also released by Wikileaks on Wednesday  (December 1), Ambassador John revealed how the U.S. demand for Mr. Bout's  extradition was faltering. Expressing his desperation, the ambassador's second cable said the U.S.  State 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 (Royal Thai  government)," to strengthen the U.S. extradition request. "I can't comment on allegedly classified documents," U.S. Embassy Press  Attache Walter Braunohler said on Thursday (December 2) in response to  e-mailed questions about the cables. "We are committed to continued engagement with Thailand and with other  countries around the world. Our relationships are still guided by national  and mutual interests, and mutual respect. And to the extent that the trust  inherent in this engagement has been compromised, we will work as hard as  we can to rebuild this trust," Mr. Braunohler said. "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," a Russian foreign ministry statement said on November 16,  when Mr. Bout was suddenly bundled onto a plane in Bangkok for a secretive  extradition flight to New York. The Russian Embassy did not respond to e-mailed questions about the cables. ***** Richard S Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based journalist who has reported news from  Asia since 1978. He is co-author of "Hello My Big Big Honey!", a non-fiction book  of investigative journalism. His web page is http://www.asia-correspondent.110mb.com (Copyright 2010 Richard S Ehrlich) Article from Bangkok Post 3/12/2010
Source: http://goo.gl/ezsNA

Foreign Ministry to clarify WikiLeaks memos

The Foreign Ministry's Department of Information has been assigned to explain a  secret US embassy memo sent to Washington, released by WikiLeaks, expressing  dissatisfaction and criticism of the Thai court's decision to initially refuse  the extradition of Viktor Bout last year. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said the department will publicly clarify the  issue for the Thai public as well as the international community, and give  the accurate details. "We have to look thoroughly into the [leaked US] memo and clarify it point  by point," Mr Kasit said. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the leaked classified information  will not have much effect on Thailand. "We don't have any secrets," Mr Suthep said. "What happens in Thailand, we tell  the media and the people." Mr Suthep also said that this issue would not lead to problems between Thailand and  Russia. The government had followed legal procedure in the Viktor Bout extradition  case. Moscow had also demanded custody of the former Russian soldier and accused   weapons dealer. The leaked five-page US diplomatic memo posted on the web by Wikileaks contained a  summary, updates and analysis of the case, and steps planned by the embassy's "Bout  team" to help the US in its appeal against the Criminal Court's ruling, and the  embassy's suggestions about what Washington should do in the case. "We would encourage the Thai government to issue a public statement expressing d isappointment in the judges' 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 memo said. It said the document came from US ambassador to Thailand Eric John on Aug 13, 2009 -   two days after the Criminal Court first refused the US request to extradite Bout. The memo made it clear that the ambassador had expressed his thoughts on the matter  to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya at a meeting in Malaysia. Article from China Post 6/12/2010

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.

Source: http://goo.gl/jhv5S

 

Article by Elitestv.com of 6/12/2010

Source: http://goo.gl/H89Di

 

Wikileaks and Thailand

By Global Voices Online • on December 6, 2010

By Mong Palatino

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

to Thailand

…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

about Wikileaks

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.

 

Advertisements

Written by thaicables

December 3, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: