Earlier article detailing his medical condition, treatment, and torture.
From Sputnik (formerly Voice of Russia)
Russian pilot subjected to ‘unspeakable acts of cruelty’ on US orders
March 20, 2014
The US-based lawyer of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot abducted in the West African country Liberia, was severely beaten and tortured for three days on the orders of US agents to extort information about certain people in power. The jailed 46-year-old, who is serving a 20-year prison term in Fort Dix (NJ), has been denied proper medical treatment of his heart condition and a genitals surgery to repair the damage he suffered while in Liberian detention. His attorney Alexei Tarasov told VOR his defendant’s case has been largely politicized, even more so after the Ukrainian crisis broke out. Meanwhile, Yaroshenko says he’s being treated like air by the prison authority that is still seeking to get confessions out of him.
Mr. Tarasov, could you please update us on the case of Mr. Yaroshenko?
At this time since the last month there hasn’t been a whole lot of legal action but what there has been is serious efforts by the defense as well as by the Russian diplomatic establishment in the US. They helped to provide for Konstantin Yaroshenko’s medical treatment in the Fort Dix correctional institution. Mr. Yaroshenko first experienced a heart problem, fortunately after the involvement of high level diplomats and clearly in this case the Russian Foreign Minister who has American counterparts about Mr. Yaroshenko’s case as a result of all of those efforts there was medical treatment provided to Yaroshenko. Perhaps it was not the best but he now got his heart condition stabilized. As for some of the other developments, I have discussed over the last few days with Konstantin Yaroshenko as well as with the Russian officials the fact that the prison authorities have now denied Yaroshenko’s request for a surgery. This is a surgery that would have to deal with Yaroshenko’s medical problems in the area of his genitals in Liberia as he was apprehended and subjected to torture by the drug enforcement agents. Yaroshenko was repeatedly beaten by objects such as baseball bat and those were targeting in his genitals to make it more hurtful. As a result Yaroshenko has very serious issues that cause him tremendous pain and that have been ignore for an extended period of time. We know now that the prison is unwilling to perform the operation even while a private physician at a hospital in Trenton, New Jersey had earlier issued recommendation that the surgery would be desirable.
Mr. Tarasov, you said that he was tortured by the authorities. Did you mean the US authorities?
Well, the allegations that were in Yaroshenko’s original motion to dismiss indicated that Yaroshenko was apprehended on the order of American authorities, in other words the US agents were the ones who told their Liberian counterparts to go and arrest Yaroshenko. Yaroshenko was then brought to the headquarters of NSA in Monrovia, Liberia where he met with the US agents so the US agents were there on the scene at this institution. Yaroshenko was then led within the same building to a torture chamber where he remained for the next three days subjected to unspeakable acts of cruelty. Yaroshenko was asked for the torture began a series of questions that were divined to elicit from some information that he knew about high level individuals in positions of power. He declined to provide the information and was then told that he would be subjected to very rough treatment.
Mr. Tarasov, what is he saying about the conditions right now? How is he being treated right now by the prison authorities?
Yaroshenko said that ‘people look at him as walls’. So he of course has caused terror with the high level contacts and the attention that he has received both in press as well as from Russian officials. There seems to have been pressure exerted on the local administrators at the Fort Dix facility and Yaroshenko feels as though he is watched all the time and what happens to him and people are purposefully make things known to him, things that they would not tell other regular inmates. He does feel that he is special there in Fort Dix, but unfortunately not in a good way. I can give you one example, there was a package sent to Konstantin Yaroshenko from Russian publishing house known as Komsomolskaya Pravda. The package contained Russian books, mostly literature as well as the collection of Soviet era films. Once the package arrived from Moscow to Fort Dix, New Jersey the prison actually turned it down, they said Yaroshenko is not registered to receive packages with content such as this. So package was ultimately delivered to my office in Houston, Texas and we don’t know as to how to provide these materials to Konstantin Yaroshenko because there is only limited opportunities for what he can do while there at Fort Dix. He doesn’t speak English well and there is only a handful of Russian books in the prison library which he read a long time twice if not three times each. He would have a need for some activities to do at the prison other than just sit there on his bed the entire day.
You mentioned that they sent him Russian movies, Soviet era movies. Does he have a TV set?
No, there is no TV in the prison cell. Inmates have privileges to watch television for a few hours a week in the common areas and there are of course films there that are the property on the institution. I do not know quite frankly whether individual inmates can have films of their own, it would be somewhat unusual if they do. There are no Russian movies. The movies in the package don’t have any content that might be obscene or that might be proscribed by prison regulations. I think that the facility should allow this package and these films to go to the prison because after all Yaroshenko is not the first and not the last of Russian inmates at the Fort Dix correctional facility.
Mr. Tarasov, you said that he was recommended a surgery by the private physician. Was this an American physician?
Yes, it was a physician at the Saint Francis Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey to which Yaroshenko was taken more than a year ago. While there he underwent several medical tests on his genitals area and the physician after several ultrasound exams issued the document that tells that Yaroshenko basically needs the surgery.
Did the issue any sort of an explanation why they denied the surgery?
From the knowledge I have and this is gain based on conversations with Yaroshenko whose language is not as good, it is because his medical conditions, prison claims while it is bad it is not getting worse. So because it is not getting worse the surgery is not necessary. They say it is bad, it could be better but because it is not progressing the disease is not becoming more difficult and harder to treat, so he is denied any surgery now.
How is he feeling right now? What is he saying?
He feels sick, that is what he told me. He feels sick, a little better on the heart condition now, he was given some rudimentary medicine. Yaroshenko by the way also talked with some relatives in Russia over the phone as to what to do when one is experiencing the disease he has. His wife’s sister to my knowledge is a medical doctor in Russia and they were able to provide him some advice and he believes that his adherence to these recommendations actually alleviated these problems just as much as the very basic medications that he was provided.
He was provided with some sort of medication. Is he still taking any medication?
I don’t know the exact name of the drug, Yaroshenko tried to phonetically tell me what the pills were. Unfortunately I was not able to ascertain exactly the kind of medication. If it has favorable results it must be at least somewhat effective.
Was there any official reaction?
They have been denying surgery on several occasions now. Back a year ago or maybe even a last summer the Russian diplomat in New York at the Russian Consulate – they contacted the prison and they were given the response that the prison doesn’t think it is necessary to have the surgery done. But again we heard that Yaroshenko would not be administered this procedure last week. That is when we learnt that Fort Dix is not going to do this surgery.
Mr. Tarasov, what is being done right now to help him to get this surgery done?
I’m hopeful that some contacts are going to continue on the diplomatic front. Of course it might be a little bit more complicated now with the situation over Ukraine. I’m hopeful that that by the way will not impact Konstantin Yaroshenko’s case because they are objectively two separate issues and I’m hopeful that the justice Department and the bureau of prison and the American force for that matter will not have any negative consequences for Konstantin Yaroshenko’s case over what happened in the last two weeks.
As of now, did you feel any implications already caused by the situation in Ukraine?
I don’t know how to exactly interpret some of the steps that the prison administration have taken. For example, I have been promised that they would send me his medical records and then instead about two weeks ago I got back in the mail instead of the answer from the Fort Dix institution, I got all my correspondence back saying that they wouldn’t provide anything to me and instead telling me that I might send my request to the Justice Department. But again whether it is just bureaucratic wrangling or whether it does have to do with the difficulties that now exist on international ground I cannot tell you. What I can tell you is that Yaroshenko’s case has been politicized. Yaroshenko was the first Russian national to have been kidnapped by the US government in the third country. Russia has been vociferous in its demand to have Yaroshenko returned.
Mr. Tarasov, when are you going to see him next time?
I’m hopeful that within the next two weeks I would be in New Jersey to meet Yaroshenko and maybe go over some legal suggestions that we would have for his defense. Again we have a window until August of this year to file a motion in his case, a motion to essentially have a new trial granted based on additional evidence.
Mr. Tarasov, thank you very much.
Not a problem.