With additional reporting by Zaheena Rasheed.
Russian national Roman Valerevich Seleznyov was expelled from the Maldives in response to an Interpol red notice, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said.
Seleznyov, 30-years-old, was on holiday in the Maldives and was arrested from the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) on July 5 minutes before he boarded a flight to Moscow. Seleznyov is the son of Russian parliamentarian Valery Seleznyov.
The Maldives Police Service followed due process in expelling Seleznyov, the Home Ministry said.
“As Interpol is the biggest international police institution and the Maldives has been a member of the Interpol since 1984, the government of Maldives considers Interpol red notices issued to be of high priority and takes serious action [regarding such notices].”
The ministry also said the Maldives respects international treaties it is party to and strives to sustain relations with friendly nations.
The Interpol official website describes the red notice as one that “seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.”
However, statements from both the United States and the Russian governments indicates the arrest was made by the US Secret Service. Maldives does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
Seleznyov is accused of bank fraud, identity theft, and other cyber crimes.
Russia has called Seleznyov’s arrest a “kidnapping” and described the actions of Maldivian authorities in the incident as “outraging”.
Minivan News was unable to obtain a comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Department of Immigration and Emigration today said the institution was unaware of the incident.
Meanwhile, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has urged the government to accord due process and credible judicial mechanisms in repatriating suspects.
It also appealed to the Russian government to exercise restraint.
The government violated the constitution in Seleznyov’s arrest, claimed the party, noting that the suspect was immediately transported by officials of the third country out of Maldives jurisdiction, despite the law requiring arrests within Maldivian territory to be made by local security personnel.
“The Maldivian Democratic Party notes that the Maldivian Constitution stipulates for arrests within Maldivian territory to be made by personnel of Maldivian security services. It is also a judicial requirement for security services including the Police to procure a warrant from a Maldivian Court for such seize-and-arrest operations and that the suspect is produced at the relevant Court in Maldives prior to repatriation,” the statement read.
“The Maldivian Democratic Party deplores the fact that the government had unnecessarily projected the state as powerless and the view that the government had undermined the Maldives Constitution with blatant disregard to concerns of individual rights of tourists who visit Maldives.”
The government’s “negligent and high handed tactics” may have adverse effects on trade and tourism, the MDP said.
The opposition party has reiterated its calls for urgent judicial reform and called on local and foreign institutions to prevail over the Maldives government to “foster overdue judicial reforms and establish judicial mechanisms for Police and government officials to cease and desist from deliberate denials of due process.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry has said they were not informed of the arrest and called on the Maldives to provide necessary explanations.
“The stance of Maldives’ authorities cannot be but outraging, since despite the existing international legislation norms they allowed another country’s special service to kidnap a Russian citizen and take him out of the country,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.
“It is not the first time that the US side resorts to the de-facto abduction of a Russian national ignoring the bilateral 1999 treaty on mutual legal assistance” the Russian ministry was quoted as saying in international media.
Russia has also compared the incident with two earlier extradition cases, one of arms dealer Viktor Bout and attempted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko, stating that they too were “forcibly taken to the U.S. from third countries and convicted on dubious charges.”
Speaking to Russian media, Roman Seleznyov’s father has warned Russians against visiting Maldives.
“You see how unsafe is there. One may be kidnapped in front of his wife and child,” he was quoted as saying. He said he is unable to contact his son, and claimed the US authorities are denying his rights.
“They took him to Guam because American law is not fully applicable there” he was quoted as saying.
In September 2013 Russia issued a travel advisory cautioning its citizens to avoid countries where US law enforcement can arrest and extradite it’s citizens.
Arrest and Charges
According to the Unites States, Seleznyov was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service and was transported to Guam Island – a US territory in the western Pacific – where he was presented at court. He is under detention until a second hearing on July 22.
US Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jenny A. Durkan, in a statement thanked the US Secret Service for apprehending Selenyov.
“Cyber crooks should take heed: you cannot hide behind distant keyboards. We will bring you to face justice,” said Durkin, who also heads the Justice Department’s Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Enforcement Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.
According to the statement Seleznyov was indicted in March 2011 in the Western District of Washington for hacking into point of sale systems at retailers throughout the United States between October 2009 and February 2011.
He is said to be involved in the criminal underground for carding (verifying validity of stolen credit card data), where he is known as “Track2”.
Seleznev is accused of engaging in a bank fraud scheme, hacking into retail POS systems and installing malicious software on them to steal credit card numbers. He is also accused of creating and operated infrastructure – among the servers that hosting carding forum websites selling stolen credit card numbers.
“The arrest of Roman Seleznev is yet another example of how the Secret Service continues to successfully combat data theft and financial crimes,” said Robert Kierstead, Special Agent in Charge of the US Secret Service Seattle Field Office.
“The Secret Service utilized state-of-the-art investigative techniques to dismantle this criminal network. Our success in this case and other similar investigations is a result of the extraordinary work of our investigators and our close work with our network of law enforcement partners.”