Americans "arrested" Roman Seleznev without legal instruments - witness
Hello, this is John Robles. I am speaking with a source at Male airport in the Maldives, who witnessed the detention of Roman Seleznev. The speaker's name has been kept anonymous for his own safety.
Robles: Hello, sir, thank you for agreeing to speak with me in the middle of the night, I really appreciate it. You witnessed the detention of Mr. Seleznev, can you tell us what you saw?
Source: What I saw was while they were at the departure hall: there was one of my friends, who was accompanying the three of them, one was a man, there was a little daughter and there was a woman.
Clearly, there were two white guys who were having a conversation with him. The other guy, he did not resist anything. I was a bit far away, but I saw him being cuffed by the two Americans (as we later found out).
And I thought it was a normal Interpol operation which we often see in Male airport anyway, so we did not bother to check who he was, we did not bother to come near him, but after three days we realized it was not a normal arrest. It was the Americans and it was the Secret Service. I found it from the news that it was not Interpol.
Anyway, clearly, it was not local police who talked to him; it was the two white guys. I can remember one very clearly, one was wearing a green T-shirt and jeans type pants. He cuffed him.
Then we started watching the guy who was being cuffed, and he was very cool actually, very calm. What he did was he put his jacket or shirt on his wrist so that we couldn't see that he had been cuffed. He was cuffed from the departure hall and then he was walked by these two guys (two American guys), there were some local police behind him, but they were not engaging in anything, they were just behind him. And he was walked to the CIP lounge, which is the "Commercially Important People" lounge which is normally called the VIP lounge, and he was taken there in front of everybody!
There're other witnesses as well. It wasn't very secret; he was taken away in front of us. And the lady with the daughter went through the normal departure hall.
Robles: Why was he taken to the lounge and did the wife and the daughter protest or did they just go and get on the plane?
Source: They were talking, they were engaged in some conversation, but I didn't hear it.
Later I asked the guy who was the representative of Kanifushi, which is the resort he was based in, he told me, the two guys came and said: "You will come with us", or something like that. And there was no paper produced at the time of this arrest.
Robles: They didn’t produce any papers, warrants…? Nothing?
Source: Nothing, just cuffed him; that is what we saw. And why he was taken to the VIP lounge; well, the process is if they are leaving by private jets; anybody can go through that lounge. It's a private lounge, so nobody could actually see what is going on when they go through there. I later talked to the guys who were handling the flight; the guy told me that he was calm, but the two guys literally threw him onto the flight.
Robles: They threw him onto the airplane?
Source: Yes. They were very nice on the inside, but at boarding time they literally pushed him into the plane.
Robles: They physically threw him, pushed him into the plane?
So, what you are telling me is: when people could see them, they were polite and normal, but when they though no one was watching, they were very violent.
Source: I can't say violent or anything like that, but the guy who handled the flight said it wasn't nice. He said he was pushed into the plane.
Robles: His wife Anna gave a press conference and said that while these guys were in the lounge with her husband, she heard them screaming at him, and he kept saying "No! No!"
Source: There was definitely a heated conversation. I mean he physically didn't resist, but he was saying something, I could see that. Like I said, we didn't go near there; we didn't bother to check that because it is a normal sight that people are being carried away in front of us here. These arrests.
Robles: That's normally Interpol or is it Americans who do that?
Source: They were one hundred per cent Americans. That's not… It was confirmed only three days later. I even Tweeted about it the day it happened but I wanted to disregard it because I thought it was just a normal case.
Robles: I'm sorry, what I was asking is it normal for Interpol to arrest people or is it normal for Americans to arrest people there?
Source: For Interpol. Because we are working in the airport, for us an arrest is just a normal thing. Sometimes people are drunk and they have to be arrested. But in this case, it was definitely not locals, it was Americans, I mean too white guys, it was not locals.
Robles: Ok, because the news reports out of the Maldives… The Maldive authorities said that it was locals.
Source: That's not locals, that's not true. If you go through my Twitter timeline on that day you can see exactly.
Robles: Everyone who has been there has said the same thing. Does Interpol normally use local police?
Source: There are some cases that I know of which happened in 2011. Even then the president was involved in a case, but he didn't want to handle just like that, without any warrant or without any court case. But this time it is different, this time they just came, cuffed, took him.
Robles: As far as I know, in the Maldives the law is that if someone is going to be extradited they have to go through a court, right? Then they have to have a finding and after that they have to have an extradition order, right?
Source: Right! Yes! Through the news I read that they tried for the court order but the judge refused.
Robles: For Mr.Seleznev the judge refused an order?
Source: The judge refused to give an arrest warrant to police.
Robles: What did you hear? What was the reason?
Source: There was no reason, I have the article which is in local. They changed some parts yesterday, but I have a copy which I have saved locally, in which it is said he was arrested on the advice given by the Attorney General that when they put the exit stamp on his passport, they can arrest him.
Even though he is in the Maldives, if his passport is stamped "exit", they could arrest him.
Robles: Did they stamp his passport?
Source: I don't think they did in the departure hall when they were there. They could have done that in the lounge.
Robles: I see. Or they could have done it later.
Source: They could have done that, but everybody knows it is a stupid reason for an arrest.
Robles: This is also very important. You have just mentioned that they changed the story.
Source: They changed the story and they have a local version on their site. I have the original and it states that they arrested him on the advice by the Attorney General. If they put this exit stamp on his passport they could arrest him.
Robles: In the new story that is not there?
Source: That part has been cut out. Nobody gave an explanation why.
Robles: I see. Very interesting. Do you know anything about this airline?
Source: The company that handled the aircraft, I think, was SkyTours from here, locally. Normally they are the handling agents for jets.
Robles: Did you see this aircraft? Again the company is called "VistaJet"!
Source: "Vistajet" could be the parent company, but the local handling party was not Vista anything. It was SkyTours.
Robles: Did you see any other Americans or did you only see two? Did you see any people with bulletproof vests?
Source: No, nothing. They were in normal casual clothes because the Maldives is a very peaceful place and I don't think anybody would need bulletproofs and all sorts of weapons in the airport. It's really very calm.
Robles: What else have you heard that would be interesting for our listeners?
Source: The interesting part would be the part that I've told you: this arrest was done on an advice by The Attorney General and because the judge refused to issue a warrant.
And now the American counterpart is saying that the Maldives arrested him and for the past two or three days we can see from official US statements that Interpol was not mentioned, it was clearly mentioned "Secret Service", but all of a sudden day before yesterday we saw it was on Interpol's Notice.
Robles: What do you mean it was on Interpol’s notice?
Source: They said he was on Interpol’s watch list, but in none of the official statements from the US could we see any Interpol mentioned – it was clearly said Secret Service.
Robles: So, one: there was no Interpol, it was the US Secret Service; originally there was advice from the Attorney General, that was taken out of the news, right? And originally there were stories that the judge refused to issue a warrant. To whom? To the Americans or to the police?
Source: To the police, but I'm not sure. Anyway, if there was any operation, it would be the police, but the judge refused.
Robles: Let me make sure I have this correct: the Americans wanted to arrest Mr. Seleznev and therefore, asked the judge for a warrant, or the police asked the judge for a warrant. But the judge refused to issue the warrant against Mr. Seleznev. Then, on the advice of the attorney general the Americans kidnapped Mr. Seleznev as long as he had an exit stamp in his passport: it was ok to do that?
Source: Yes, that is what we learnt from the news. That part has been cut out.
Robles: Is there anything else you can tell us?
Source: It's basically it, because it didn't take much time. It took maximum five minutes from the departure hall to the VIP longue.
Robles: Were his wife and his daughter detained or harrassed or pushed around in any way?
Source: No, nothing of that sort. They immediately separated his family and took him away with them after handcuffing him.
Robles: So, he didn't have a chance to say goodbye to his wife or talk to her?
Source: After they cuffed him, we got out of the departure hall. Then again we saw him been walked in front of us to the arrival hall.
Robles: Is it normal when they arrest people to take them to this CIP "VIP" lounge?
Source: No, it's not normal. They would be taken out from some other entrance.
Robles: So, it was very unusual that he was taken through the VIP lounge.
Source: Yes, we were talking about it because there were so many people in the arrival hall, and they saw that he was cuffed and was being walked from the departure hall through the arrival to the VIP-lounge. When we started watching him, he put his jacket or coat on his wrist.
Robles: He did it himself?
Robles: What do you mean "he was walked"? Was he forced?
Source: He was, obviously, cuffed, the other two on both sides.
Robles: Did they have guns?
Source: Not visibly.
Robles: Is it possible, that they were pointing a gun at him?
Robles: Okay. Thank you, I really appreciate this.
This is John Robles, I am speaking with an anonymous source at Male airport in the Maldives, who witnessed the detention of Roman Seleznev. The speaker’s name has been kept anonymous for his own safety.