- Viktor Bout was convicted last year on four counts stemming from weapons deals
- His lawyer says Bout was prosecuted for "purely political reasons"
- The attorney wants the judge to overturn Bout's conviction
- Bout faces 25 years to life in prison
With his client due in federal court next week for sentencing, the defense attorney for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is asking the judge to set aside Bout's guilty verdict.
Last year, Bout, who's been dubbed "the merchant of death" by his accusers, was convicted on four counts of conspiracy to kill Americans, acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles and provide material support to a terrorist organization. He is facing 25 years to life in prison, with sentencing set for April 5.
Bout's lawyer, Albert Dayan, in a letter filed Wednesday in federal court in New York, is now asking Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, who presided over the trial and will set Bout's sentence, not to "become an unwilling party" in what Dayan calls a "wrongful prosecution" for "purely political reasons."
Dayan argues that the conviction is a "product of malice" and that Bout has been an "object of private politics" coming from Washington.
The lawyer claims that Bout was picked out by the United States government and lured into a crime manufactured by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, in which the agency played "the role of judge, jury and executioner. "
In his claim, Dayan insists that Bout did not intend to sell any arms to the agents, that he has hasn't sold any arms for several years and that the only thing he wanted to sell were two cargo airplanes, worth $5 million. He is standing by the claim that DEA officers baited his client into illegal activities.
"I do not profess, I do not argue that he's an angel but he is innocent of these charges," wrote Dayan. "I felt it was my duty to speak out and let the world know."
According to the indictment, Bout was suspected of creating front companies that used his planes to deliver food and medical supplies, as well as arms.
After a sting operation in 2008, he was arrested in Thailand and in 2010 was extradited to U.S. He was convicted last November 2 after a three-week trial in New York.