US: Associate of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout arrested in Australia

U.S. officials say an associate of convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has been arrested in Australia.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and a U.S. prosecutor announced that Richard Ammar Chichakli was arrested Wednesday by Australian authorities at the request of the United States.

Chichakli has been charged with conspiring with Bout and others to buy aircraft from two companies in the United States. Such a purchase would violate economic sanctions. Chichakli holds U.S. and Syrian citizenship.

Last year, a U.S. judge sentenced Bout to 25 years in prison on terrorism charges for trying to sell missiles to Colombian rebels to shoot down U.S. helicopters.

U.S. agents posing as rebels arrested Bout in Thailand in 2008. He was extradited to the United States, tried and convicted in 2011.

Bout, who U.S. prosecutors have dubbed the “Merchant of Death,” insisted he was trying to sell cargo planes, not weapons, to the agents.

U.S. prosecutors have said Bout’s weapons sales helped inflame wars in Africa in the 1990s.


(File photo of Bout arriving under arrest in New York: DEA)

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