Washington prefers to interpret current extradition agreement their own way
Although the US continues to insist on Snowden’s extradition, it decided what to do with the Dmitry Ustinov case a long time ago, and prefers not to contact with Moscow, pressing Lithuania to extradite Ustinov.
"Ustinov has to lodge an appeal against a Vilnius district court verdict next week. He was sentenced to extradition to the US on July 22, although his guilt wasn’t proven", Drąsutis Zagreckas said to the Voice of Russia.
“There is not enough evidence for his extradition to the US. If his actions cannot be punished under Lithuanian law, he cannot be extradited to a third country. We are going to request additional information from the US Department of Justice,” Zagreckas explained.
Thus, it’s early to talk about Ustinov’s guilt, until the request is fulfilled. However, experts believe that Vilnius will yield to the US pressure and there is no point in hoping for a fair decision in this case. And once again, just like in the Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko cases, the US resorted to its favorite trick – a request for extradition from a third country. But in compliance with a treaty on mutual legal assistance they had to cooperate with Russia, Human Rights Commissioner for the Russian Foreign Ministry Konstantin Dolgov said.
“The ongoing US practice of sending requests for Russian citizens extradition to third countries ignores a legal treaty between Russia and the US. They didn’t consult the Russian authorities about this,” Dolgov added.
Washington prefers to interpret the current agreement their own way. US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said last week that the treaty “provides for cooperation on criminal matters, but does not govern US extradition relationships with third countries”.
And this is a fair remark, given that it’s easier to solve this problem via third countries than directly ask Russia. But not because Russia is not obliged to extradite its citizens without having enough evidence of their guilt, but because there is no any extradition agreement, international law expert Marina Silkina said.
“The treaty as it is now cannot be applied for extradition procedure in any way. As there is no any extradition agreement between Russia and the US they can deal with the problem using common principles and international law regulations,” Silkina concluded.
International law regulations are completely clear: one party can extradite a citizen to another only if it’s sure that the accused is not persecuted for political reasons or won’t be tortured or executed. Moscow has all the reasons to believe that conditions mentioned above won’t be met as the ex-CIA contractor knows too much and has already revealed US secrets to the world. Snowden’s father also expressed his concerns on this matter on Friday.
Probably, Eric Holder’s letter appeared in order to clarify the situation. It’s interesting that it was written July 23 and published only on July 26, possibly, in order to let all the parties think about an offer which they, in fact, can refuse because the US Attorney General’s wording is quite unclear as it says that “the criminal charges Snowden now faces in this country do not carry the death penalty and the US will not seek his execution even if he is charged with additional serious crimes”.
By the way, earlier the prosecution eased on Bradley Manning. He was facing the death penalty on the accusations of “aiding the enemy”, but now he faces only life imprisonment. It’s important that Manning revealed mainly old data while Snowden told the world about the current US secret services activities.
By the way, the White House confirmed last week that the PRISM program won’t be shut down as it’s aimed at preventing terrorist attacks. And the US government has yet another opportunity to demand to extradite Snowden. If he is convicted of aiding terrorists, Washington can remind about UN Security Council resolution 1373, Aleksandr Skovorodko, lawyer specializing in international law, said.
“The US has a direct connection to this resolution as it was passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks. If a terrorist is trying to prove he is persecuted for political reasons, it’s not taken into consideration,” Skovorodko explained.