A piece in The Observer about my prison interview with the man nicknamed the “merchant of death”:
Viktor Bout, the Russian accused of being the world’s biggest arms dealer, has angrily denied allegations that he supplied weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaida in his first interview for six years with the western media. Bout is currently languishing in a maximum security prison in Bangkok after being arrested in March last year in a sting operation by American agents. The United States has requested his extradition and final court hearings are expected to take place next week.
Bout said that the allegations against him were “lies and bulls**t”. He said: “I never supplied arms as such at all and I never especially never had any deal with al-Qaida.” Asked if it was possible that planes owned by him carried weapons without his knowledge, he said: “I could not exclude that.” During four separate interviews with Channel 4 News, he later admitted that his planes did ship arms into Afghanistan in 1996 for the government during the civil war it fought against the Taliban.