Mother of Russian 'arms baron' asks Biden and Putin to release her son from US prison
The mother of a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States and inspired the filmmakers with Nicholas Cage in the title role, asked the leaders of the United States and Russia to negotiate the release of her son, writes Yahoo.
Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are expected to discuss a range of geopolitical and other issues, including potential prisoner exchanges, at a meeting in Geneva on June 16.
The most famous Russian prisoner likely to be discussed is Viktor Bout, 54, who former British minister Peter Hein called a "merchant of death" for supplying arms to the torn Liberia and Angola.
It inspired the 2005 gun-smuggling film Lord of War (Russian translation - "The Gun Baron") starring Nicolas Cage.
"Gentlemen, presidents, please come to an agreement," Bout's mother, Raisa, asked in a letter addressed to the two leaders.
She said that she is almost 85 years old and that she may never see her son again if he serves his sentence in full.
“As a mother who has been waiting for her son for many years, I ask you: come to some kind of agreement so that my son will return to me while I am still alive,” she wrote. "I can no longer go to America to visit my son for health reasons."
Bout, who was convicted in 2011 by an American court of conspiracy to sell weapons to Colombian FARC rebels, has been accused for decades of selling weapons to despots involved in some of the bloodiest conflicts in the world.
“Victor has already lost 13 years of his life,” Raisa Bout said in a letter published by the state news agency. "RIA News"... "My son is not a terrorist, he is a businessman."
She asked Putin and Biden for Christian mercy for the families of Russians in US prisons and Americans serving sentences in Russia, the agency said.
“I ask you, when you are solving issues of global importance, take a moment and the trouble that befell our family and other families of Russians and Americans, who today are waiting for their sons, husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters or wives from American and Russian prisons,” noted Booth's mother.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had not seen the letter, but did not rule out that the leaders of the two countries would discuss the exchange of prisoners.
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Former Soviet Air Force officer and polyglot Booth was arrested in Thailand in an elaborate special operation in which American agents impersonate Marxist Colombian rebels seeking an arsenal of modern weapons.
Bout was arrested at the request of the United States in 2008. He was charged with conspiracy to kill American citizens and the military, as well as material support for terrorism and illegal trafficking in portable surface-to-air missiles.
The Russian denied all charges. In Thailand, he won two extradition proceedings at first instance, but the decisions were overturned on appeal. After that, Bout was taken to the United States. In 2012, a jury in New York found him guilty, after which he was sentenced to the minimum sentence under the articles that he was charged with - 25 years in prison.
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