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Originally published Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 7:37 PM

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Bellevue man home after detention in Russia

Arkadi Gontmakher returned from Russia to his home in Bellevue Friday, some two months after his acquittal in Petropavlovsk on charges of...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Arkadi Gontmakher returned from Russia to his home in Bellevue Friday, some two months after his acquittal in Petropavlovsk on charges of money laundering and trafficking in illegally harvested king crab.

Gontmakher, a Ukrainian immigrant with U.S. citizenship, had been detained in Russia since September 2007 and spent most of that time in custody awaiting trial. Even after his Dec. 16, 2010, acquittal by a Russian jury, he was forced to remain in Russia after prosecutors arrested him a second time and sought a new trial on charges related to illegal crab harvests.

The 53-year-old Gontmakher suffers from a serious heart condition, and his attorneys sought the support of the U.S. State Department to allow him to return to the United States. Gontmakher's wife, Lena, confirmed that her husband returned to Bellevue on Friday. But citing advice from attorneys, she declined to provide more details about how he was able to leave Russia.

"The only thing I can say at this time is he arrived home and he will be able to get his medical treatment," she said.

Before his arrest in Russia, Gontmakher's Bellevue company, Global Fishing, was the largest importer of Russian king crab into the United States. In 2006, his company sold $148 million in seafood, and the king crab his company imported into the United States sold in supermarkets across the nation.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581

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