The Maldives acted under its own laws in the expulsion of Russian national Roman Valerevich Seleznyov, the US Embassy in Colombo has said.
Seleznyov, 30 years, was reportedly about to board a flight to Moscow after holidaying in the Maldives when he was arrested from the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).
He was then transported to Guam Island with the help of the US Secret Service. Seleznyov is the son of Russian parliamentarian Valery Seleznyov.
Russia has earlier called Seleznyov’s arrest a “kidnapping” by the US Secret Service and described the actions of Maldivian authorities in the incident as “outraging.”
A spokesperson with the US Embassy in Colombo said Seleznyov was detained by the Maldivian authorities “following the issuance of an Interpol Red Notice” in relation to indictments relating to bank and computer fraud that affected thousands of American citizens.
“This was a law enforcement action, and was based solely on law enforcement considerations. The indictment in this case was returned on March 2011, and thus long predates any current issues involving Russia and the United States. It has nothing to do with any of those issues. Nor was this a ‘kidnapping’ or in any way illegal,” the US Embassy said.
Seleznyov “was arrested following his expulsion from another country, acting under its own laws. He was advised of his rights and given consular notification. These actions also were in no way inconsistent with any treaty arrangements with Russia.”
The Maldives Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have also claimed Seleznyov’s “expulsion” was in response to a Interpol red notice and said the government followed due process.
President Abdulla Yameen has also dismissed claims of a US Secret Service operation on Maldivian soil as baseless.
During a press conference at Muleeage on Wednesday night, he said the arrest was not prompted by a request from the US.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has accused the government of flouting due process in Seleznyov’s arrest.
In a statement on Wednesday, the party said that personnel of Maldivian security services must make arrests within Maldivian territory and a warrant from a Maldivian Court must be obtained for such seize-and-arrest operations.
Further, the suspect should also be produced at the relevant court in Maldives prior to repatriation, the party said.
The MDP has also expressed concern the incident may have adverse effects on trade and tourism.
Russia is currently the fifth in terms of the number of tourist arrivals to Maldives, with more than thirty three thousand tourist arrivals within the first five months of 2014.
Yameen said he hoped the Seleznyov incident would not affect bilateral relations with Russia and said the government is already working on relieving tensions between the two countries.
A high level delegation from the Maldives, led by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fathimath Inaya, met with officials from the Russian Embassy to Sri Lanka and Maldives in Colombo today to explain details of the incident.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Inaya told Russian officials that the Maldives is certain this incident would not severe bilateral relations with Russia.
The Russian officials have said the country is prepared to work with Maldives in preventing any future incidents, the ministry said.
Other members in the delegation include s the High Commissioner of the Maldives to Sri Lanka Zahiya Zareer, Deputy Attorney General Ahmed Usham and the Chief Superintendent of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) Mohamed Riyaz.
In its statement today, the US also denied Russia’s allegation that the arrest was a violation of a bilateral treaty on mutual legal assistance between the two countries.
The move was “in no way inconsistent with any treaty arrangements with Russia,” the embassy said.
Further, Seleznyov was advised of his rights and given consular notification, the US added.
The US has thanked the Maldives government for their commitment to other Interpol member states, and thanked them for the support “in pursuing justice for the victims of these crimes.”
President Yameen has pledged to introduce legislation on extradition within the coming week.
The Maldives has signed a number of extradition treaties with other nations, but they are not being enforced due to the lack of necessary legislations, Yameen said.
The Maldives does not have an extradition treaty with the United States at present.