More than 60 Russians 'held hostage' in US, arrested on false charges
The United States holds Russians hostage on "false charges," and are "literally hunting Russians across the globe," according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin stated that the US is effectively holding over 60 Russians hostage by arresting them on false charges and sentencing them to dozens of years in prison.
"The US authorities have been literally hunting Russians across the globe, especially in countries that have bilateral treaties on extradition with the US, seeking the arrest of our citizens on false charges... The overall number of Russian citizens basically held hostage exceeds 60," the deputy minister said.
Vershinin stressed that US courts sentence Russians to dozens of years in prison, with the tendency of becoming even stronger under the current US administration amid a rise in political tensions between the two countries.
He also urged Russian people to calculate the risks they could face when traveling to unfriendly countries if there is even the "slightest suspicion" that they could be targeted by the US secret services and law enforcement as Russians are presumed guilty in this country.
The Russian diplomat confirmed that Russia's foreign ministry, embassy in Washington, general consulates in New York, and Houston will continue to provide help to Russians return home, noting that Moscow would decisively respond to "all hostile actions by the US authorities."
Earlier in the month, the US and Russia exchanged imprisoned US basketball player Brittney Griner and Russian businessman Viktor Bout in a one-for-one prisoner swap.
The Former District Judge who presided over alleged international arms dealer Viktor Bout, Shira A. Scheindlin, told Sputnik that she does not consider Bout a terrorist but rather a businessman, doubting that he planned to kill Americans.
Upon being asked whether Bout really wanted to kill Americans, the judge said: "No, no, not really," revealing that an undercover US agent told Bout during a sting operation "Do you realize these weapons will be used to kill Americans?" and the Russian businessman reportedly said "Oh yes, I understand that. And I agree, it's my enemy too."
Brittany Griner, was earlier sentenced to 9 years in prison in Russia and fined one million rubles ($16,590 then) for illegally bringing cannabis oil into the country.