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Swiss to Extradite Adamov to Russia

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Swiss authorities will extradite former Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov to Russia rather than to the United States, according to a court ruling made public Thursday.

Switzerland's top court overturned a previous ruling by the Justice Ministry, which had said Adamov must first face U.S. courts, where he has been indicted by a 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.

The Lausanne-based supreme court said Adamov should be tried in Russia, as he is a Russian national and the crimes he is accused of were committed in that country rather than in the United States.

Adamov was arrested May 2 on a U.S. warrant while visiting his daughter in the Swiss capital, Bern. U.S. justice officials have accused him of diverting up to $9 million from funds intended to improve Russian nuclear security into private projects in the United States, Ukraine and Russia.

"With extradition to Russia, it can be guaranteed that the crimes under investigation will be examined for overall judgment in the country primarily affected," a court statement said.

In its ruling, dated Dec. 22, the Lausanne court said that, on its own, the U.S. extradition request was not valid under Swiss law because the alleged crimes would have been committed by a foreign functionary in a foreign fiscal system.

The court said extradition for prosecution in the United States would only be permitted under Swiss criminal law if it were in tandem with a Russian case, and even then any Russian prosecution would still take priority.

Russian prosecutors have written to Switzerland's Justice Ministry, formally guaranteeing that they will investigate the U.S. charges against Adamov, according to the ruling.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said Moscow had not yet been officially informed of the decision. "But according to various sources, Swiss judicial organs have accepted the Russian argument that Adamov must be extradited to Russia. Naturally, this gives us satisfaction," he said in televised comments.

Russian officials had expressed concern that if Adamov was extradited, he might share nuclear secrets with the United States.

Adamov was "delighted and satisfied" by the ruling, his lawyer Stefan Wehrenberg said.

Wehrenberg said Switzerland had 15 days from Friday to send Adamov back to Russia, although the court ruling did not specify how long authorities had to carry out the extradition.

The Justice Ministry said in a statement that it was talking to Russian authorities to put in place the necessary measures for Adamov to be extradited "as quickly as possible."

While Washington respects the Swiss court's decision, it is "very disappointed" with the outcome, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

(The Moscow Times 01.i.06)

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