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US Charges Russian Arms Dealer With 4 Terror Offenses

U.S. prosecutors have indicted an alleged Russian arms dealer, arrested earlier this year in Thailand, on four counts of terrorism.

The U.S. Justice Department Tuesday announced that Viktor Bout is charged with attempted sales of weapons to Colombia's leftist rebel group FARC. The group is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

Bout says the United States made up the charges against him.

The 41-year-old former Soviet Air Force officer has been held in a high-security prison outside Bangkok since his arrest on March 6. Thai authorities are deciding whether to extradite him to the United States.

Bout is accused of trafficking weapons to several conflict zones, mainly in Africa. He has been investigated in several countries, but has never been prosecuted.

One of his alleged clients was former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is now on trial for war crimes. Bout also was suspected of selling arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan and to al-Qaida.

Russia's Foreign Ministry last month summoned Thailand's ambassador to discuss what it called violations of the rights of a Russian arrested the previous month in Bangkok on arms trafficking charges.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.