A US federal judge has ruled that neither Maldivian nor American laws were violated in the arrest of a Russian national Roman Seleznev by US federal agents in July 2014.
Seleznev’s lawyers contended that his arrest amounted to kidnapping as he was not taken into custody by the Maldivian police with a court warrant or brought before a judge ahead of extradition.
Seleznev, the son of a Russian parliamentarian, was arrested from the Malé international airport on July 5 just before he was about to board a plane to Moscow after holidaying in the Maldives. He is accused of hacking into US businesses and selling the information.
Citing legal precedent, Judge Richard Jones from the western district court in Seattle ruled that the manner of arrest does not prevent the state from pressing charges against an individual, except in cases of torture and mistreatment.
The Seattle Times said: “In denying the motion, Jones said nothing in the testimony or evidence presented during the two-day hearing suggested that the actions by U.S. Secret Service and State Department agents amounted to shocking and outrageous misconduct. Therefore, the 40-count indictment stands.
“Jones also said Seleznev’s testimony was “less than credible,” while the agents’ statements were supported by evidence, including a newspaper article that quoted the Maldivian president who said the arrest was legal and done with the consultation of the country’s attorney general.”
The Maldives does not have an extradition treaty with the US.
But the Maldives home ministry said at the time that he was expelled following due process in response to an Interpol red notice.
The US Secret Service agents had taken Seleznev on a private jet to the US territory of Guam and presented him before a US district judge. The American government at the time described him as “one of the world’s most prolific traffickers of stolen financial information.”
Seleznev has since been charged for the theft of information from more than 2 million credit cards. If found guilty, he faces up to 30 years in jail. The trial is scheduled to begin in May.
Former deputy prosecutor general of the Maldives, Hussain Shameem, testified at the federal court on behalf of Seleznev.
According to the AP, Shameem said that the Maldivian constitution only allows arrest in three circumstances: if a person is seen committing a crime or fleeing a crime scene, or if police obtain a court warrant.
Seleznev’s arrest was illegal because the police had not sought an arrest warrant, Shameem said.
The Maldives has since enacted an extradition law in January 2015. An extradition treaty with Russia was signed in March.