BANGKOK, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Thailand extradited alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to the United States Tuesday to face terrorism charges, despite pressure from Moscow to free him.
U.S. authorities accuse Bout, 43, of conspiring to kill Americans and supporting a terrorist organization, the Voice of America reported.
Bout, nicknamed "the merchant of death," was taken from prison to a Thai airport under heavy police guard, the led onto a U.S. charter jet accompanied by Drug Enforcement Administration officials, CBS News reported.
Sirisak Tiyaphan, director of the international affairs department at Thailand's attorney general's office, said his country met its legal obligations in releasing Bout to U.S. custody. Bout's delivery to U.S. officials ends more than two and a half years of legal battles and a confrontation with Russian authorities.
"(We) don't have any extradition treaty with Russia," Sirisak said. "Yet, we have the treaty with the United States. So, we have the international commitment to comply with that."
In August, a Thai appeals court ordered Bout to be surrendered to the United States.
Bout, portrayed in the movie "Lord of War" by Nicolas Cage, was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 following a sting operation by U.S. agents posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by the initials FARC, wanting to buy arms to kill U.S. officials and other citizens, VOA said.
Russian authorities have argued the case is rooted in politics and say Bout should be returned to Russia. Sources told VOA that Bout, a former military pilot, has ties to the Russian intelligence agency and Russian authorities expressed concern he may reveal sensitive information.