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U.S. court rejects appeal of convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout

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NEW YORK, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court Friday upheld the conviction of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout on charges of conspiring to kill Americans.

Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 in a joint operation of Thailand and the United States, accused of conspiring to kill United States citizens and sell arms to Colombian militants. He was extradited to the United States in 2010, convicted in 2012 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

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In a 13-page decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd District said it found "no merit" in Bout's claim his extradition was illegal because it resulted from what he called "intense, coercive political pressure" exerted by the U.S. government on the Thai government.

The extradition and conviction led to a bitter diplomatic dispute between Washington and Moscow, with Russia attempting to have Bout, a former Soviet military officer, transferred from the United States to Russia, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment Friday with the U.S. court's rejection of Bout's appeal, saying it "confirms the unjust and politicized nature of the case."

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