Voices from Russia

Monday, 24 June 2013

Snowden Flight Spotlighted Politics of US-Russia Crime-Fighting

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Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden’s reported sojourn in Moscow this week is the latest in a series of cases in recent years to rattle American-Russian ties over cooperation in politically-tinged criminal investigations. On Monday, Mark Galeotti, a transnational crime and Russia expert at New York University, told RIA-Novosti, “Both sides have tended to regard as a purely criminal investigation [what] the other side thinks of as political”.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the USA believes that Snowden, who’s wanted by the Americans for disclosing a top-secret surveillance program, is still in Moscow after reportedly flying to the Russian capital from Hong Kong on Sunday. Carney and US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell both cited bilateral cooperation in expressing hope for Moscow’s help in the Snowden case, saying that the USA returned several “high-level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government”. Douglas McNabb, a Washington-based extradition lawyer, said that in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries, any Russian help in sending Snowden back to the USA would be a political decision. He told RIA-Novosti, “Only a high-level politician would approve a rendition”.

Russia has been highly critical of US authorities’ extradition of Russians from third countries to face criminal charges in the USA, most notably in the cases of convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout and convicted Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko… both of whom Moscow described as targets of politically-motivated American prosecutions. Russia accused the USA of kidnapping Yaroshenko after notification of his arrest was mistakenly sent to a third country and he was transferred from Liberia to New York to face charges without Moscow’s knowledge. He was sentenced to 20 years in an American prison on drug trafficking charges in 2011. Bout, detained in a joint operation by American and Thai authorities in Bangkok in 2008, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the USA in April 2012. Moscow condemned the USA’s refusal to extradite him to Russia. Both Bout and Yaroshenko figured prominently in a 2011 report issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) criticising the USA’s human rights record.

Galeotti said that whilst Snowden isn’t a Russian citizen, Moscow might enjoy the opportunity to “tweak the Americans’ noses” by impeding American efforts to detain the former US National Security Agency contractor. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that that it’d be “deeply troubling” for American relations with China or Russia if either country “wilfully” ignored Washington’s requests for help in returning Snowden to the USA. On Monday, Kerry said in New Delhi, “In the last two years, we’ve transferred seven prisoners to Russia that they wanted. So, I think reciprocity and the enforcement of the law is pretty important”.

Neither the White House nor the State Department provided more specific information about the cases of prisoners returned to Russia that Kerry and other officials cited Monday. However, earlier this year, the USA deported Russian national and suspected narcotics trafficker Stanislav Satarinov back to Russia in order to face criminal charges in his home country, the RF Genprokuratura stated in March. Satarinov, who was extradited to the USA from Germany in April 2011, was one of several Russians in addition to Bout and Yaroshenko cited in the MID report critiquing Washington’s human rights record. However, the Prokuratura said that his transfer to Russia was enabled by the “harmonious” work of law enforcement officials in Russia and abroad, including “the relevant US authorities”.

24 June 2013

Carl Schreck



Editor’s Note:

The USA is getting payback for its nasty and underhanded treatment of Bout and Yaroshenko. Russia’s position is clear. US law doesn’t extend to third countries. US law STOPS at the US border… no exceptions. Quite frankly, the USA can do nothing, for the Republicans deliberately tanked the economy (easily done if you wage an expensive war and cut taxes for the rich at the same time) in a crackbrained and illy-considered attempt to rip up New Deal and Great Society programmes. Bush wasted the USA’s substance on needless and quixotic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, there’s nothing left in the cookie jar, thanks to Republican malfeasance and incompetence. None dare call it treason…



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