A Russian arms trader who is serving a 25-year prison term in the United States after being convicted illegally selling weapons to a Colombian terrorist group has been transferred out of solitary confinement.
The detention of Viktor Bout, who was convicted in 2011, has been the focus of persistent criticism by Russian authorities, who have complained he was arrested illegally by U.S. agents in Thailand.
Moscow has repeatedly sought to have Bout extradited to Russia, but Washington has refused.
Bout has been serving his sentence in a federal prison in Illinois, in a facility that holds inmates convicted on terrorism and other serious crimes.
But Bout's wife told Russian news media on October 26 that his lawyer had arranged his transfer to a new facility where conditions are less stringent.
"This is the first encouraging news,” Alla Bout was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency. “For the first time in four years, he will see skies over his head, will have an opportunity to communicate with others."
Bout, a former Soviet Air Force officer, became known popularly as the “Merchant of Death” for running what U.S. officials described as an international arms-trafficking network.
He was the inspiration for a 2005 Hollywood movie called “Lord of War.”
Bout’s arrest, in a sting operation in Thailand, also prompted Russian authorities to warn citizens traveling abroad about what they said was the danger of being kidnapped by U.S. law enforcement agencies.