The detention of a Russian pilot in Liberia by U.S. intelligence agencies violates international law and is practically considered kidnapping, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
Konstantin Yaroshenko, 41, along with other members of an alleged drug trafficking group, was detained in Liberia in May. On Tuesday, a New York city court arrested them. They are accused of trafficking of cocaine to South America, Africa and Europe mainly from Liberia and Venezuela.
"The Russian side is convinced that such activities directly violate the relevant norms of international law, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, and the bilateral Consular Convention of 1964," the ministry said in a statement. "This is practically the kidnapping of a Russian citizen on the territory of a third country," it said.
"The activities of the U.S. side on the forced and secret transfer of our citizen from Monrovia to New York can be regarded as an act of freewill," the ministry said.
The ministry said it is keeping the issue under close attention.
Prosecutors say Yaroshenko was an organizer of drug trafficking.
All of the members of the group have denied the accusations; however, if convicted, may face from 10 years imprisonment to a life sentence.
The group was rooted out by Liberia and later U.S. and Liberian national security services conducted a special operation and arrested the members of the group.
Yaroshenko arrived to the capital of Liberia, Monrovia, on May 28 to meet with some entrepreneurs, who allegedly found him via the Internet.
It was expected that the prospective businessmen would examine the plane to see if it was suitable for a flight and discuss contract details.
In a Monrovian hotel, the pilot was arrested by agents wearing civilian clothes, did not identify themselves, and later transferred him on a cargo plane to the United States. The lawyer said that during his detainment in Liberia, the pilot was chained by his arms and feet.
"Konstantin [Yaroshenko] says that for two days he had no water or food and was beaten," the lawyer said. "Besides [they] demanded him to sign some papers," he continued.
On the third day, he was taken to an airport and flown to unknown destination. Upon arrival, Yaroshenko was driven to a holding facility. He was told later he was in New York.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that on June 28 it sent an official note to the U.S. State Department with demands to clarify the situation and explain the activities of U.S. authorities. On July 14, the ministry invited U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle to discuss the inadmissibility of actions conducted by U.S. authorities during the Yaroshenko's arrest and his transfer to New York.
MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti)