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FACT CHECK: Is 'Merchant of Death' Viktor Bout a Terrorist?

Townhall Media

Speaking to reporters at the White House Monday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan refused to overtly state convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was recently released from a U.S. prison in exchange for WNBA player Brittney Griner, is a terrorist. 


"I'm curious, does the administration consider Viktor Bout to be a terrorist?" Sullivan was asked. 

CLAIM: "Well, he's not listed as a “Specially Designated National.”  What we consider him to have been was a convicted criminal, convicted of arms trafficking and other crimes, to serve a sentence.  He's served 12 years in detention; he was set to be released in 2029," Sullivan said.  

"And, of course, before we make any determination about whether to send somebody back as part of a deal to get an American home, we make a determination about the national security implications of that.  We did that assessment in this case," he continued. "We believe we can manage those challenges, but we will remain constantly vigilant against any threat that Viktor Bout may pose to Americans, to the United States going forward." 


In 2011, Bout was convicted by the Department of Justice for a number of terrorism crimes

"International arms dealer Viktor Bout was found guilty today of conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – a designated foreign terrorist organization based in Colombia – to be used to kill Americans in Colombia, announced the Department of Justice," DOJ released on November 2, 2011.  


"Bout was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 based on a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court. He was subsequently charged in a four-count indictment in May 2008 and extradited to the Southern District of New York in November 2010. Bout was convicted today of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals; conspiring to kill U.S. officers and employees; conspiring to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles; and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The three-week jury trial was presided over by U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin," DOJ continued. 

TOWNHALL'S RATING: Bout was convicted on a number of terrorism charges, making him a terrorist. Sullivan's classification of Bout as simply a "convicted criminal," is false. 

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