British ambassador says Zakayev will be extradited if evidence is provided

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MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - The United Kingdom is ready to hand over Akhmed Zakayev, one of the most odious Chechen separatists, to Russia if the Russian Prosecutor General's Office provided substantial evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities, the British ambassador to Russia told a news conference here Friday. Tony Brenton said Zakayev, who has been granted political asylum in the U.K., is protected by British legislation as any other person in Britain.

Although the Russian authorities have repeatedly asked London to extradite Zakayev, who they suspect was involved in attacks against federal forces and murders of peaceful civilians in Chechnya, these requests were ignored.

Brenton, however, said the U.K. sought a more efficient exchange of information on terrorist organizations and their members with Russia, understanding this work is often done invisibly.

Brenton added that the British Embassy in Moscow had been virtually deluged with flowers, letters, calls and condolences after the terrorist acts in London on July 7.

The ambassador said he had been surprised to receive sympathies from victims of the terrorist act in the theater center on Dubrovka in the southeast of Moscow, which took the lives of 129 people in October of 2002.

Brenton said a phone call from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proved the U.K. and Russia are committed to countering terrorism.

He said the terrorist acts in London and Beslan, when a school was held under siege last September, had not only been attacks against a country, but against the civilized world and that Russia and the U.K. intend to join efforts to eradicate the threat.

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