U.S. justice rejects extradition request by Russian pilot Yaroshenko

From RT

May 2, 2017

US justice rejects extradition request by Russian pilot Yaroshenko
© John Randolph / Reuters

The plea of extradition to Russia that Konstantin Yaroshenko had filed over “cruel and humiliating” conditions in the Fort Dix Prison has been rejected by US officials.

Yaroshenko told daily Izvestia that in late April he received the reply from the US Department of Justice reading that the deportation plea had been rejected due to seriousness of charges that led to the pilot’s conviction.

The prisoner told reporters that the chances of his return to Russia had been practically exhausted, but he still hoped that Russian lawyers and diplomats would take his case to the International Criminal Court or the United Nations over the fact that the US prison authorities supposedly knowingly violate the international conventions against torture and cruel and unusual punishment.

In addition, he claimed that the US authorities had violated the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

My lawyer has earlier presented the proof of my innocence as well as the proof of my abduction with testimonies of Liberian agents,” he said.

In 2011, Russian citizen and professional pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the United States for allegedly participating in a plan to smuggle drugs into the country. All charges against him were based on the testimony of US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents who had launched a sting operation against him.

He was first arrested in Liberia and was flown to the US without official extradition procedure and in violation of the diplomatic code.

Yaroshenko strongly insists that he is completely innocent and that the whole process was a part of the US agents’ attempt to extract evidence against other Russian citizen, Viktor Bout. Bout was the owner of a transport company who had also been extradited to the US and sentenced to a lengthy prison term after a DEA sting operation.

He has also repeatedly protested against the conditions in which he has been kept, saying they are so bad that, given his poor health, remaining in them would be equivalent to torture.

In September 2016, Yaroshenko told reporters that he had signed a document that would allow his transfer home, but added that prison officials in the US had forced him to sign the papers. He added that Russian authorities requested his handover under the 1983 Strasbourg Convention on prisoner handover in 2014 but the US Federal Prison Authority had denied the request, offering various excuses.

In November 2016, Yaroshenko’s mother, Lyubov Yaroshenko, sent letters to then-President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry asking them to show mercy and send her son back to Russia under the international convention on prisoner handovers. The letters were sent by email and by post, and in both cases the messages reached the intended addresses, yet were left without reply.


Estonia’s Bronze Night, Odessa massacre anniversaries, kidnapping of Russian citizens by the U.S. — where is justice?

Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation
April 27, 2017
Remarks by spokesperson Maria Zakharova:

10 years since Tallinn’s Bronze Night and Dmitry Ganin’s death

April 27 marks 10 years since the tragic events known as the Bronze Night took place in Tallinn when the monument to the Soldier Liberator was dismantled and the nearby remains of the Soviet soldiers who liberated the Estonian capital from the Nazis were exhumed despite repeated protests from the Russian side and in outrageous violation of the norms of international law and basic human moral principles. The street protests of those who tried to protect the memorial were put down by force.

That night’s events are still painful to remember for our compatriots and all those who care about the great exploit of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to secure peace in Europe as it is today. Every year, hundreds of people come to pay tribute to the perished soldiers and the Bronze Soldier, which were moved to the war cemetery in Tallinn. The Immortal Regiment procession is organised, and a guard of honour protects the memorial.

We are extremely concerned about the way the Estonian authorities are conducting the investigation into the murder of Dmitry Ganin, a Russian citizen who died in the protests of April 2007. After 10 years of inaction, the Estonian law-enforcement bodies are clearly seeking to drop the case, citing the expiry of its period of limitation. They are also ignoring the Russian Investigative Committee’s proposals to provide legal assistance.

Such an approach is unacceptable. We demand that the Estonian side take all possible measures to identify the culprits behind the Russian citizen’s murder, and to hold them responsible.

Anniversary of the May 2 events in Odessa

May 2 marks three years since the tragic events in Odessa, in which dozens of people died and hundreds were injured at the hands of thugs behaving like fascists. I regret to say that those responsible for that inhuman crime have not been punished yet and that the investigation has stalled in the face of the tacit indifference of the West and international human rights institutions. Just compare it with the storm of indignation, especially in EU parliamentary circles, that erupts over a visit by a European politician or a public figure or a member of parliament, for example, to Syria. A tidal wave erupts there. The man is humiliated to such a degree that he is ready to admit to anything, that he is an agent of every secret space agency, and to turn himself in to all authorities. He is utterly humiliated by the stream of media attacks.

We have seen nothing of this kind over the past three years from the West in terms of demands to investigate the Odessa events. Let me repeat that this tragedy was not just a political rally, or the dispersal of demonstrators or mistreatment of people. People were burnt alive, and they were not servicemen but civilians who were defending their right to a dignified life.

The inaction of the Kiev authorities and the pure connivance of their external sponsors are fuelling radical sentiments in Ukraine. It is troubling that more and more often we hear extremist forces say that they intend to disrupt memorial events, and make threats against those who have not forgotten the victims of the Odessa tragedy.

Let me stress that the authorities, who have halted the investigation, are not the ones coming under pressure but rather those who witnessed the events and still care about the search for truth.

We are calling on Kiev to ensure law and order in Odessa in the coming days and swiftly handle any provocations by nationalist radicals.

Sadly, we are often right about these things. Once again we would like to warn our Ukrainian colleagues that condoning, inciting and nurturing radicals will come back to bite you hard. I will not even say “the day will come” – it has, in fact, already come.

The situation around Konstantin Yaroshenko

We were baffled to learn that the US authorities had decided against granting Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko’s request to hand him over to Russia under the 1983 Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. As is common knowledge, our compatriot was abducted by US secret service agents in Liberia in 2010. He was forcibly and secretly taken to New York and sentenced to a 20-year prison term for alleged involvement in a drug transportation plot, of which there was no real hard evidence.

[He was also tortured. His poor health is related to the beatings and torture he endured from U.S. authorities, the lack of medical treatment for his injuries, and his continued poor treatment in the prison where he is being held which could be considered torture.(1)]

Regrettably, Washington’ latest preconceived decision is evidence that the US authorities are still unprepared to remove numerous irritants in bilateral relations, which have been created by the Obama administration. We have to state that this approach will not contribute to normalising the dialogue between Russia and the United States. It is also plain to see that [Washington] is disregarding the humanitarian factors, given that Konstantin Yaroshenko is facing serious health problems, something that we have repeatedly indicated to the US side and did our best to enable this Russian citizen to be given the required medical aid, particularly when his health deteriorated.

As is only natural, we will continue to insist on this Russian citizen being brought home. We will work actively to see that  Konstantin Yaroshenko receive the medical aid he rightly deserves, of which he is deprived in the US prison. We intend to continue taking all possible steps to defend his rights and legitimate interests.

The situation around Roman Seleznev

On April 21, a Washington district court sentenced Russian citizen Roman Seleznev to 27 years imprisonment. He was accused of wire fraud and stealing and selling credit card data.

First of all, we emphasise again that Roman Seleznev was illegally and forcibly transported from the Maldives in 2014 by US law enforcement, which actually amounted to the kidnapping of a Russian citizen. We think that the US actions of this kind are a gross violation of international law and demand that this criminal practice be immediately discontinued.

It is also clear that the US justice failed to take into account Seleznev’s acknowledgement of his guilt and his readiness to cooperate with the investigation. Neither were the humanitarian aspects of the case taken into consideration: he is a disabled victim of a 2011 terrorist attack in Morocco and has to take medication and remain under the care of physicians.

His defence attorney is planning to appeal.

The Russian Foreign Ministry continues to track events involving Roman Seleznev and take the necessary steps to render him consular and legal assistance.

(1) https://freeukrainenow.org/2016/05/08/there-is-no-justice-here-russian-pilot-jailed-in-us-tells-of-kidnap-torture-and-lies-abandons-faith-in-us-justice/



US ordered Russian pilot severely beaten and tortured after kidnapping in Liberia

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.

Liudmila Chernova


‘There is no justice here’ — Russian pilot jailed in US tells of kidnap, torture, and lies; abandons faith in US justice

What he is reporting is what others have reported as well in American prisons.

He is being held at Fort Dix Federal Correction Institution on the Fort Dix/McGuire Air Force Base, in the state of New Jersey.

From RT — two posts

Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko ©

Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko © / Sputnik

February 12, 2016

Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who is serving a 20-year sentence in the US for alleged drug trafficking, has told reporters about numerous violations of his rights and “deliberate attempts to kill him” through cruel conditions and poor medical treatment.

“I would like to disclose what is going on, because I am tired of fighting the lawlessness that I experience here. There is no justice here, only lies that I cannot refute in time,” Yaroshenko told Russian daily Izvestia.

“Everything that the American side is doing is absolute lies. We have repeatedly caught them lying, but it turned out that such things are legal here. Prosecutors are lying right in the court hall and the judge is backing them, says that this is all normal. They don’t even bother to refute that they are lying. Earlier they claimed that they had never tortured or beaten me, but now they admit it,” the pilot told reporters. “They just say that this is no big deal for them – to beat or torture someone,” he added.

READ MORE: Russia insists on examining jailed pilot US prison after health complaints https://www.rt.com/news/russian-pilot-jailed-health-322/

Yaroshenko also said in the interview that the prison administration had repeatedly punished him for negative statements about the United States and American democracy. “Recently they asked me why I was complaining to the Russian consular services and the Russian embassy. But who else can I complain to? I am a Russian citizen, I have not come here by myself, I was kidnapped, tortured and beaten. This is the place where it is better to forget about human rights,” he noted.

Konstantin Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years in jail in the United States in 2011 for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the country. However, the charges against the Russian are based on testimony of US agents who launched a sting operation against him. He was arrested in Liberia and flown to the US without official extradition procedure, despite protests from Russia and violations of the diplomatic code. The pilot himself has always maintained his innocence, and insisted from the very beginning his case was not about drug trafficking. He says his poor command of English prevented him from understanding the nature of suggestions made to him by undercover DEA agents.

“What were their charges against me? The papers said that Yaroshenko understood what the agents were talking about. This is it. But this is absurd – I did not even speak English at that moment. Are they clairvoyants? How do they know the thoughts of other people?” he asked. “Besides, even if I understood what they were talking about, this does not mean that I agreed with what the agents planned to do. It was not my plan, but the agents’.”

Yaroshenko’s defense team have repeatedly stated that the whole scheme was organized by US special services in an attempt to extract evidence against Russian citizen Viktor Bout, the owner of a transport company who had also been illegally extradited to the US and sentenced after a DEA sting operation.

READ MORE: ‘I was framed because of Bout’ – jailed Russian pilot

In 2015 Russia launched a criminal case against 11 US agents and four Liberian police officers over suspicions that they took part in the sting operation that ended in Yaroshenko’s detention. The suspects were charged in absentia with kidnapping, threats of violence and forcing a person to testify in a criminal process by using intimidation or torture. In Russia, these crimes are punishable with prison sentences of up to 12 years.

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