The US “kidnapped” the son of a Russian MP, possibly to exchange him for Edward Snowden, the father charged. The man was indicted with computer-related crimes by a Washington DC court and snatched from the Maldives.
Roman Seleznyov was detained on Saturday at Male international airport as he was returning to Russia, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday in a statement. He was forced by agents of the US Secret Service to board a private plane to Guam to be later arrested, a move which the ministry called “a de-facto kidnapping.”
“We consider this incident as a new hostile move by Washington,” the statement said, accusing the American authorities of ignoring proper procedure in dealing with foreign nationals suspected of crimes.
“The same happened to Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who were forced to go to the US from third countries and convicted on dubious charges,” the ministry said.
The notion was seconded by Valery Seleznyov, Roman’s father and a Russian lawmaker, who told RT that he considers the situation as an illegal act.
“For all I know they may be demanding a ransom tomorrow. Or try to exchange him for [NSA whistleblower Edward] Snowden or somebody. One can only wonder,” he said.
He added that he could not contact his son and that the American authorities had denied him his phone call.
“They took him to Guam because the American laws are not fully applicable there,” the lawmaker explained.
The MP said that his son has scant computer skills and could not be involved in any sort of hacking.
Earlier on Monday, the US Secret Service and the Department of Justice announced the arrest of Roman Seleznyov, who is facing trial in Washington DC on charges including identity theft, bank fraud, illegally accessing information on protected computers and trafficking in unauthorized access devices.
The US says between 2009 and 2011 the man was involved in stealing and selling credit card data of American citizens. The Secret Service called Seleznyov one of the world's most prolific traffickers of stolen financial information.
Roman Seleznyov earlier made headlines in 2011, when he was among the victims of a bombing attack in Morocco.
The US has a record of taking drastic steps when it wants people held in custody. The methods may vary from the widely-criticized practice of “extraordinary rendition,” or the blatant kidnappings of terror suspects during the Bush era to putting pressure on foreign governments to allow American agents a free hand on their soil.