Adamov gains first point in extradition battle

Yevgeny Adamov (left) and the Russian President Vladimir Putin don't see eye to eye Keystone Archive

A Swiss court has ruled that the former Russian nuclear energy minister, Yevgeny Adamov, wanted in Russia and the US, should be released from detention.

This content was published on June 9, 2005 - 21:53

But he is to remain in custody until the Federal Court rules on a pending appeal by the Swiss justice ministry.

Justice ministry spokesman Folco Galli confirmed that Adamov would remain behind bars until Switzerland’s Federal Court rules on that appeal.

"The federal supreme court hasn't responded yet, but at the moment he's still in detention," he added.

Lawyers for Adamov appealed against his detention on the basis that Switzerland had violated his immunity as a former minister.

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona agreed, ruling that his arrest on a United States warrant was not legal.

Adamov was arrested May 2, after the United States asked Bern to detain him, during a visit to see his daughter in the Swiss capital.

He has since been indicted by a US federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on charges of conspiracy to transfer stolen money and securities, conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and tax evasion.

Nuclear secrets

The US says Adamov diverted up to $9 million (SFr11.3 million) from Energy Department funds intended to improve Russian nuclear security. The US authorities have until June 30 to file an extradition request with the Swiss.

Lanny Breuer, Adamov's American attorney, told a news conference in Washington he was pleased with the court decision.

"This decision shows without question that the Swiss courts are independent and have shown, in our view, great wisdom," said Breuer.

"The rule of law in Switzerland remains strong despite, in our view, the overreaching of the United States government and the United States Department of Justice."

Russian authorities, concerned that Adamov might divulge nuclear secrets if extradited to the US, have demanded he be sent instead to Russia to face allegations over the illegal appropriation of money intended for nuclear security.

The Russians put in a formal extradition request on May 17.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Yevgeny Adamov was Russia's atomic energy minister from 1998 to 2001, when a parliamentary commission accused him of corruption.

He is charged by the US with embezzling $9 million, which had been destined for nuclear-safety upgrades in Russia, and transferring the money to various US companies under his control.

Adamov also faces extradition to Russia, which handed a formal request to the Swiss authorities on May 17. He is wanted in Russia for fraud.

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