24 May 2019 10:54

Family of Russian businessman Bout incarcerated in U.S. gets visa, could visit him in Sept - newspaper

MOSCOW. May 24 (Interfax) - The wife and daughter of Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who is serving 25 years in prison in Illinois, have received tourist visas almost one year after they filed their visa applications and are planning to visit the United States in September, the newspaper Izvestia said on Friday citing Bout's wife Alla.

"Of course, we are happy. We were not sure till the end how things might turn out. We have postponed our visit twice waiting for visas. I thought in the beginning we would be able to visit Viktor late last year, considering that my daughter and I had an interview with the U.S. embassy in September 2018. Now we are planning our trip for late August or early September. We will be staying in the States at least for a month. Everything depends on our financial status," Alla Bout said.

She said she would start searching for an apartment and a car to rent in the United States, considering the lack of public transportation to the penitentiary in Marion, Illinois.

"All I want is to avoid problems at the airport, which we encountered during our previous visits. The Immigration Service held us for about ten hours the last time. Officers met us as soon as we alighted from the plane. They interviewed us and examined our luggage. They took away all electronic devices, i.e. computers and phones, for two or three hours," Alla Bout said.

She said she was hoping that the penitentiary administration would allow several visitations per week. The Marion Penitentiary regulations allow one visitation per week to be paid on weekends, Izvestia said.

"The Russian embassy will file the request with the penitentiary administration. We are grateful to the Foreign Ministry for helping us get the visas and for continuing to help our family deal with many issues," Alla Bout said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry sent a note to the United States in January 2019 demanding that the issuance of visas be expedited. Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Moscow was indignant at "the six-month delay in the issuance of U.S. visas" to Bout's wife and daughter, and Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova contacted the U.S. embassy for the same purpose, Izvestia said.

Bout was detained in Bangkok on March 6, 2008, on counts of illegal arms trade, a conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens, and aiding and abetting terrorism. Thailand extradited Bout to the United States on November 16, 2010. He was given a 25-year sentence in 2012. The court found Bout guilty of an attempt to sell weapons to the left-wing radical group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that could be used to kill U.S. servicemen.

Bout is serving time in Marion, Illinois. He pleaded not guilty and said he was doing absolutely legitimate business in the area of international air transportation.