Lawyers for Russian ex-nuclear minister appeal his detention in Switzerland

Lawyers for Moscow's former nuclear energy chief, who is being held in a Swiss prison on a U.S. warrant, said Wednesday that they were appealing against his detention on the basis that Switzerland violated his immunity as a former minister.

Switzerland's detention of Yevgeny Adamov violates national and international law, according to his lawyer, Stefan Wehrenberg.

Adamov is "confident that he will soon return to Russia," Wehrenberg said. "He is willing to contest as a free man the baseless accusations made by American prosecutors."

Adamov was arrested earlier this month in the Swiss capital Bern after U.S. justice officials accused him of diverting up to US$9 million (Ђ7 million) from funds intended to improve Russian nuclear security.

The appeal was filed Tuesday in a Swiss criminal court, Wehrenberg said. It remains unclear when a decision might be given.

Folco Galli, spokesman for the Swiss Justice Ministry, declined to confirm that an appeal had been received, but said Tuesday would have been the last possible day to make such a request.

Such an appeal could only challenge whether Adamov's detention in Bern is legal, Galli said. It is "not a question of his extradition to the United States," he said.

Adamov has been indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on charges, including conspiracy to transfer stolen money and securities, conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and tax evasion.

On Tuesday, a Pennsylvania businessman accused of assisting Adamov in these crimes pleaded innocent to charges in a Pittsburgh court.

Wehrenberg said that he expected Moscow would approach the Swiss government through official channels soon, but did not specify what would be Moscow's position.

Last week, a legislator from Russia's Liberal Democratic Party suggested in parliament that if Russia is unable to get the former atomic energy minister returned home, he should be "eliminated."

Adamov had come to Switzerland to see his daughter and to help her regain access to blocked accounts in Swiss banks.

BRADLEY S. KLAPPER, Associated Press Writer

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