Russia warns citizens about travel, risk of extradition to U.S.
The Foreign Ministry said Russian citizens who are wanted by the United States should not visit nations that have an extradition treaty with the U.S., saying they would not be treated fairly in the American justice system.
The New York Times
MOSCOW — Countries often issue travel advisories warning citizens of danger abroad: war, for instance, or a terrorist threat or an outbreak of disease. The Russian Foreign Ministry posted advice of a somewhat different nature Monday, cautioning people wanted by the United States not to visit nations that have an extradition treaty with it.
“Warning for Russian citizens traveling internationally,” the Foreign Ministry bulletin said. “Recently, detentions of Russian citizens in various countries, at the request of American law enforcement, have become more frequent — with the goal of extradition and legal prosecution in the United States.”
Citing examples in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Latvia and Spain, the Foreign Ministry said, “Experience shows that the judicial proceedings against those who were in fact kidnapped and taken to the U.S. are of a biased character, based on shaky base of evidence and clearly tilted toward conviction.”
Extradition has frequently been a contentious issue between Russia and the United States, but the disagreements have been particularly sharp in recent months over the case of Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who is wanted on criminal espionage charges but has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.
In response to the demands by the Obama administration for Snowden’s return, Russian officials have said the United States has routinely ignored extradition requests from Russia.
Russia has also complained about the arrests of Russian citizens by the United States or by other countries at the Americans’ request.
In late July, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, criticized the arrest in the Dominican Republic of Alexander Panin, a Russian citizen wanted by the United States on charges related to cybercrimes.
Zakharova said Russia considered such arrests “a vicious trend, absolutely unacceptable and inadmissible.”
She said the Russian government demanded that the United States request the arrest of Russian citizens directly from Moscow, under a 1999 treaty on assistance in criminal matters.
There is no formal extradition treaty between Russia and the United States.
Russian officials cited the lack of such an agreement as a main reason they could not forcibly return Snowden from the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where he lived for more than a month until his temporary asylum request was approved.
The Foreign Ministry said Russian citizens could not expect to be treated fairly in the American justice system.
“Russian embassies and consulates general logically give consular and legal help to Russians in trouble,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“However,” it added, “one should not count on a successful outcome in such cases.”