Russia accuses US of 'kidnapping' extradited Russian pilot

21st July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia accused the United States of "kidnapping" a Russian pilot extradited from Liberia in a cocaine smuggling case, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The detention in May of cargo-plane pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko by US anti-narcotics police from Liberia to be jailed in New York "directly violates the norms of international law", the ministry said in a statement.

"Effectively, we are talking about the kidnapping of a Russian citizen in a third country," it said, complaining that US authorities did not inform the Russian embassy about Yaroshenko's detention.

Seven people including one Russian were arrested in Liberia on May 28 on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges and deported to the United States after drug enforcement officials caught them with 4,000 kilos (8,800 pounds) of cocaine.

In a telephone interview with Russia's NTV television on Wednesday, Yaroshenko complained of "torture" and "beatings" in jail in New York and said he was deprived of sleep and necessary medications.

If found guilty, Yaroshenko faces up to 40 years in jail, NTV reported.

Pilots trained in the former Soviet Union often travel abroad to work in African and Asian countries where their skills are in demand.

In December last year, Thailand detained a Belarussian pilot and five Kazakh crew members after they attempted to refuel in Bangkok with a 35-tonne sanctions-busting cache of arms from North Korea.

Thailand later dropped charges against the men, who had claimed they were carrying oil drilling equipment, and in February deported them to Kazakhstan.

© 2010 AFP

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