Russia’s top law enforcement agency has launched a criminal case against 11 US DEA officers, alleging they are complicit in a sting operation that ended in the detention and trial of Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko.
The Investigation Committee – special agency for serious and high profile crimes – reported on Monday that its branch in South Russia’s Rostov Region has launched criminal cases against 11 US citizens and four Liberian citizens over charges of kidnapping, with use of violence or threats of violence. Additional charges include forcing a person to testify in a criminal process using intimidation or torture. In Russia, these crimes are punished with prison sentences of up to 12 and eight years respectively.
A US court sentenced Konstantin Yaroshenko to 20 years in 2011 for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs to the United States. He was arrested in Liberia following a sting operation and handed over to the US, despite protests from Russia and violations of the diplomatic code. The pilot himself has always maintained his innocence, saying his poor command of English prevented him from understanding the nature of suggestions leveled at him by undercover DEA agents.