Russia requests extradition of former atomic energy minister from Switzerland

Russia has made an official request that Switzerland extradite to Moscow former Russian atomic energy minister Yevgeny Adamov, who is being held in a Swiss prison on a U.S. warrant, authorities here said Thursday.

Switzerland received the Russian request earlier this week, the Justice Ministry said in a statement. 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 content of the Russian extradition request is different from the U.S. warrant, but both concern the "illegal appropriation of money intended for nuclear security," the Justice Ministry said.

The United States has until June 30 to file an official request for Adamov's extradition, but Swiss authorities did not say if Washington has already done so.

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

On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the accusations against Adamov could relate to his activities as a government minister and that any prosecution should take place in Russia rather than in a foreign criminal jurisdiction.

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."

If Washington were to submit an extradition request, Switzerland would then have to decide between extraditing Adamov to the United States, to Russia or not extraditing him at all.

"The question of which application takes priority is still unclear and will be examined in the course of extradition proceedings," the Justice Ministry said.

According to international law, Switzerland would have to make its judgment based on the seriousness and location of the alleged crimes, the dates of the extradition requests and the nationality of the person involved.

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

ONNA CORAY, Associated Press Writer

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