Israel should be discreet in efforts to free Russian-Jewish media baron Vladimir Gusinsky for fear of harming its relations with Moscow, a senior foreign ministry official said on Tuesday. Gusinsky, who holds Russian and Israeli citizenship, was arrested early last week in Spain and has been fighting extradition to Russia where he is wanted for alleged fraud. "It's possible to act for Gusinsky without endangering the bilateral relationship with Russia and not endangering other parts of the Jewish community," Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Liel told Israel Radio. He said the foreign ministry had declined to distribute letters from Knesset (parliament) speaker Abraham Burg to counterparts around the world in which he lashes out at Russia for trying to "shut the mouth" of Gusinsky. "We have nothing against activities to help Gusinsky but there are many things that we must ensure we don't harm in this process," he said. A spokeswoman for Burg said the letters would be sent without the foreign ministry's help. She said Burg had temporarily cancelled plans to visit Spain to personally lobby on Gusinsky's behalf. The World Jewish Congress has asked Spain's King Juan Carlos to free Gusinsky and not send him back to Russia, Reuters reports. Washington has criticised Moscow's moves against Gusinsky, saying Russian authorities seemed to be using the justice system to eliminate a prominent critic.
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