Guam – Chief District Court Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood this morning denied the release of Russian citizen Roman Seleznev back to Russian authorities.
Seleznev was facing charges of cyber theft in Washington State dating back to 2011. He was picked up in the Maldives earlier this month and then sent to Guam.The details surrounding his arrest were the point of contention at this morning’s hearing as attorneys argued over the lawfulness of his captivity.
In what some might deem an affront to the Russian government, Chief District Court Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood denied the release of accused Russian cyber hacker Roman Seleznev. The son of a Russian lawmaker, Seleznev will now have to face charges in Washington State where he was originally indicted in 2011. Seleznev’s defense counsel, Atty. Pat Civille reacts to the decision.
“Well of course it’s disappointing but she did preserve the issue for later if it turns out that Mr. Seleznev is sent back to Washington,” said Civille.
Judge Gatewood noted in her decision that Seleznev will still have the opportunity to present the same arguments over the legality of his arrest in Washington State.
“I think it’s an issue that will cotninue to come up in this case,” he pointed out.
PNC: “But given that the judge here on Guam denied that motion, do you think that would set the precedent when he goes to Washington?”
Civille: “Well we hope that the judge in Washington will have a more complete evdientiary record than we were able to present here.”
That was the focal point of Seleznev’s argument. Not only does Seleznev contend that his capture goes against international law, a full report still has not been provided to the defense team, says Civille.
Judge Gatewood mostly based her decision on other federal case laws in which courts have upheld the forcible abductions of alleged criminals on foreign soil. In fact, in those case laws, the circumstances of the abduction were much worse, yet other federal courts ruled that they weren’t “shocking and outrageous” as to release them from US Custody.
However, Civille argued otherwise. He pointed out that abduction does not need to involve torture for it to be deemed shocking and outrageous. He went on to accuse the US government of duplicity, deception and corruption of another country’s judicial process.
“That’s what shocks the conscience, your honor,” he lamented.
It appeared the US Government initially went through the right process, seeking an arrest warrant from a judge in the Maldives. When the Maldivian judge denied that for lack of evidence, Civille says the US government then “struck a deal with cops in the Maldives” and “just grabbed him.”
“The US doesn’t have the right to circumvent the Maldivian judicial system,” Civille told Judge Gatewood.
Seattle-based Assistant US Attorney Michael Morgan countered that there is a logical disconnect in Civille’s argument. Morgan pointed out that in other case laws, the US “literally kidnapped someone by force” and by gun point, and still the US Supreme Court ruled that was not outrageous conduct, yet here, Seleznev is asking the court to rule his capture was more outrageous. “That cannot be right,” Morgan argued through teleconference.
Civille then pressured Judge Gatewood to consider the global climate and current world affairs between the US and Russia.
“We are on the brink of some very serious matters,” Civille told Judge Gatewood, referring to US Sanctions against Russia over the controversial attack on Malaysia Flight 17.
“We’re saying, ‘Russia you have to obey the rule of law. ‘ We are demanding that they obey international law” he noted, yet in this “small corner of the world we have said, ‘Do as we say not as we do,'” he pointed out.
He also argued that the charges against his client don’t involve terrorism, violence or murder. “It’s a mundane sort of case,” he pointed out, which makes the US government’s behavior in abducting Seleznev all the more egregious.