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Cablegate: Demarche to Colombian Government On Viktor Bout

VZCZCXYZ0013
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #8226 2362055
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 242037Z AUG 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHFN/AMEMBASSY FREETOWN IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHMV/AMEMBASSY MONROVIA IMMEDIATE 0000

UNCLAS STATE 088226

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PTER CO RS TH
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE TO COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT ON VIKTOR BOUT

REF: BANGKOK 1998

1. (SBU) This is an action request for Bogota. Embassy is
requested to urge the Government of Colombia at the highest
levels to weigh-in with the Royal Thai Government (RTG) to
support the extradition of accused arms smuggler Viktor Bout
to the United States. Post may draw from the points in para 4
but should not leave them behind as a non-paper.

2. (SBU) Background: Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand in
March 2008, where he has remained in custody pending
resolution of a request for extradition to the United States
to face trial in New York for conspiracy to kill U.S.
nationals and officers; acquire and use anti-aircraft
missiles; and provide material support in the form of
millions of dollars of military-grade weapons to the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a designated
foreign terrorist organization. Until his arrest in Thailand,
Bout had not been prosecuted for arms dealing, but has long
been suspected of trafficking arms to central and western
Africa and is the subject of UN Sanctions for those
activities.

3. (SBU) On August 11, 2009, a Thai judge denied the U.S.
extradition request on the grounds, among others, that the
FARC is a political, rather than terrorist, organization, and
that its commission of kidnappings and murders constituted
protected "political offenses" because the FARC had a
purported purpose of political change in Colombia. The judge
also ruled that he did not find it credible that Bout,
perhaps the most notorious illicit arms trafficker in the
world, could supply the quantity and type of weapons about
which he was negotiating when he was arrested in Thailand.
The Thai Attorney General's office is appealing the ruling,
and we are requesting that the Government of Colombia as well
as the governments of other countries affected by Bout's arms
smuggling network engage the Royal Thai Government (RTG)
directly to underscore the significance of this case to the
larger international community and help ensure that the RTG
provides full support for the appeal.

4. (SBU) Begin points for Bogota:

-- The United States is pursuing the extradition of the
notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout from Thailand to face
charges for conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals and officers;
acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles; and provide material
support to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),
a designated foreign terrorist organization.

-- The RTG supports Bout's extradition, but a Thai judge
ruled against the request, asserting among other things that
the FARC is a political, rather than terrorist, organization.
The judge also maintained that the evidence against Bout was
not credible, and called into question Bout's capacity to
provide large amounts of weapons and munitions.

-- We request that the Government of Colombia (GOC) weigh-in
with the Royal Thai Government at the highest level to
underscore that the FARC is a terrorist organization and not
a legitimate political movement and the group's campaign of
murder, kidnapping and extortion cannot be excused by its
purported political motives.

-- We understand that the GOC may not have a formal mechanism
for listing the FARC as an official terrorist organization as
both the U.S. and the EU have done, but GOC officials
frequently use "terrorist" and "narco-terrorist" to describe
the FARC and its leadership. We urge that you convey to the
RTG that the GOC considers the FARC to be a terrorist
organization.

-- We have urged the RTG to issue a statement making clear
its own disappointment with the judge's ruling and
reaffirming its commitment to the fight against international
terrorism. It would be helpful if the GOC could deliver a
similar message to the RTG at the level of Prime Minister or
Foreign Minister.

End points.

5. (U) Point of contact for this issue is EAP/MLS Demian
Smith, email smithd3@state.gov, phone: 202-647-0036. Please
slug any responses for EAP/MLS, EUR/RUS, WHA/AND, S/CT.
Department requests action by Tuesday, August 25.
CLINTON

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