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23 Jul, 2010 22:16

US scrambles to justify rendition of Russian national

Konstantin Yaroshenko was abducted and covertly transferred to the United States from Liberia; he was not an American or Liberian citizen. He was a Russian citizen and was effectively missing for over a month.

Russia did not know about his abduction and rendition to the US. And the fact that the Americans did not tell the Russians until now, is stirring controversy.

When questioned about how the US is handling the diplomatic fallout, the spokesman for the US State Department P.J. Crowley said, “we have apologized to Russia.”

The US said sorry and insists everything, minus faxing the memo to the wrong embassy, was within the rules and regulations of an international transfer. However, that is not how the Russian government is interrupting this.

Crowley joked during the press briefing, saying “we pressed the wrong button to be brutally honest.” A reporter followed up with, “You mean the reset button,” which ignited a roar of laughter from both Crowley and the news reporters in the room.

However, it is not a laughing matter for the Russian government; they are taking the issue very seriously, calling it the ‘kidnapping of a Russian national from a third country.’

So, we were involved in sharing information with Liberia, yes indeed. Were there particular US involvement? I am not aware of that,” said Crowley.

And because the US did not follow the formalities of International Rendition law, which requires all parties involved in the secret transfer to know about it prior to the prisoner leaving the third country, the Russian ministry has labeled it a sign of 'open lawlessness.’

There was a statement, we certainly would not agree with that charge. We’ve had an exchange of diplomatic notes with Russia,” Crowley responded when RT asked about comments from the Russian ministry.

Russia Consulate-General Andrey Yushmanov in New York told RT, “It’s hard to say what the true reasons are of such behavior of the American side, especially considering the fact that here at the Consulate we still don’t have official information from our American colleagues on the matter in question.”

It is a case very reminisced of Viktor Bout; an alleged arms dealer who was apprehended in Thailand with the knowledge of the Russian government. The difference, the US struggled to extradite Bout to the US for prosecution and conviction; Thai authorities were cautious of the evidence from the US and denied the transfer. In Yaroshenko's case, the US skipped the legal procedures and rendered him without his home country’s knowledge.

So who is next if the US doesn't follow its own laws in terms of how suspects are transferred from one country to another… does Yaroshenko's case mean the rule book is no longer valid?

It is an incident that could spell disaster for the US especially as the details of how Yaroshenko was transferred are leaking out and whether the US violated its own laws.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen also compared the Viktor Bout incident to the Konstantin Yaroshenko case.

The major comparison argued Madsen is that they both were arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency on charges tied to drug cartels, such as FARC, in South America.

“It’s starting to look very political,” said Madsen, explaining that the indictment references political terms and topics, including an attempt to link Yaroshenko to FARC, an organization the criminal indictment cited as working to overthrow the “democratically elected government of Colombia.”

In the Bout case however, the US did attempt to follow strict legal procedure and failed when the Thai government opted not to extradite Bout.

This is a part of the carryover from the Bush-Cheney Administration where the US basically thumbs its nose at international law,” said Madsen.