Arrest of Russian Citizen Could be Classified as Kidnapping
Russia calls the arrest of 30-year-old Roman Seleznev by the Secret Service a "hostile step,” one that violates the 1999 Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
“If we have international agreements and conventions, both countries should follow this,” says Alexey Binetskiy, a political scientist and lawyer.
Article 1 of the treaty reads, “The Parties [the US and Russian Federation] shall provide to each other…comprehensive mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.” Russia says the U.S. failed to abide by the rules of the treaty when it abducted Seleznev without first notifying the Russian government.
Image credit: © Screen shot of the Treaty
Yet Kline Preston, an attorney who studied in the Soviet Union and who served as Chairman of the Foreign Observers in the last Russian presidential election, sees the controversy differently. “Essentially it’s a voluntary cooperation treaty that has no teeth to it.”
Preston says he doesn’t see the how the U.S. might have violated the treaty.
Still, Binetskiy is calling for an examination into the incident. He says it’s possible the US didn’t have an official go-ahead to extradite Seleznev to Guam from the Maldives government, a scenario Preston calls “kidnapping.”
“As I understand it everything has happened within a couple hours,” says Binetskiy. “Even if [the Americans] do have this decision, then in reality it’s more or less legal. If they do not have this decision of the [Maldives government] then of course it’s a violation of international laws and human rights.”
Seleznev is the son of a Russian lawmaker in the lower house of Russia’s parliament. His father, Velery Seleznev, has confirmed the arrest and told Bloomberg he’s unable to contact his son.
"I fear that now he will be put under so much pressure as if he killed Kennedy and even was Monica Lewinsky," Mr. Seleznev told the Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS.
The U.S. charges Seleznev with hacking US retailers’ networks to steal credit card information that he later sold earning about $2 million in profits. A Justice Department statement called his arrest “yet another example of how the Secret Service continues to successfully combat data theft and financial crimes.”
“Cyber crooks should take heed: you cannot hide behind distant keyboards,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a statement.
Seleznev also faces racketeering charges in Nevada.