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The case of Viktor Bout highlights the human rights and national security concerns posed by global arms traffickers

Bout’s release threatens global security; it’s also an opportunity


His release provides an opportunity to redouble our efforts to contain this one-man weapon of mass destruction and to counter arms trafficking wherever it is occurring. If we miss this chance, we could all pay a price — as gunrunners continue making a killing in their operations of mass murder.


Viktor Bout is released from U.S. prison

CNN: OUTFRONT with Erin Burnett

December 8, 2022

The release of the iconic gunrunner Viktor Bout from prison requires stronger measures to thwart the operations of global arms traffickers from Ukraine to Mexico and beyond. 

“Personified Weapon of Mass Destruction”: Ex-Arms Trafficking Inspector on Freed Russian Viktor Bout

Democracy Now!

December 9, 2022

Kathi Lynn Austin, a former U.N. arms trafficking investigator, says that while Griner’s release is cause for celebration, “it is such a difficult time for those of us who are aware of how Viktor Bout can be easily deployed” in conflict zones. “He is a personified weapon of mass destruction, and he has always proven himself ready, willing and able,” says Austin.

Russia Frees Arms Dealer

BBC World News

December 8, 2022

This is not the last we will hear of Viktor Bout. His release was a means for Russia's Vladimir Putin to arm himself with a weapon of mass destruction personified. Bout is ready and willing to resume his criminal activity and the world should be aware.

Viktor Bout Saga Continues
The Guardian

August 1,, 2022

Executive Director Kathi Lynn Austin tells The Guardian that in a post-release situation arms trafficker Viktor Bout could be weaponized again in areas of the world where the Merchant of Death has a proven track record. CAP's work on Viktor Bout's successors (see below) are a stark reminder. 

Viktor Bout waits in a holding cell in Bangkok on 9 March 2009. Photograph: Sukree Sukplang/REUTERS

US in talks with Russia for Viktor Bout prisoner exchange

BBC World News

August, 2022

Senior Analyst Brian Freskos appeared on BBC World News to discuss the implications of a possible Viktor Bout release. 



In April 2012, convicted international arms trafficker Viktor Bout was sentenced to 25 years in a US prison on charges of terrorism. However, questions remained about the fate of his billion-dollar gunrunning network. CAP set out to investigate, and busted open a major weapons ring targeting Sudan, Congo and Syria.


Download the Report

Viktor Bout’s Gunrunning Successors

A CAP Briefing Report by Kathi Lynn Austin

Tracking the merchant of death


November 4, 2011

CNN's Erin Burnett talks to Kathi Lynn Austin, who's hunted the Russian arms dealer known as the "Merchant of Death."


Reaction to Viktor Bout sentencing

CNN Live with Erin Burnett

April 6, 2012

Kathi Lynn Austin of the Conflict Awareness Project calls arms dealer Viktor Bout's sentencing lenient.


‘Merchant of death’ trial opens in New York

Mick B. Krever, CNN

October 11, 2011

Kathi Lynn Austin, an arms researcher, called Bout “the quintessential war profiteer” in an interview with CNN

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