Russia's former nuclear minister wants to clear his name in U.S. court

Russia's former nuclear minister said he is intent on clearing his name in a U.S. court. In a statement released by his U.S.-based lawyer late Thursday, Yevgeny Adamov said he wanted to travel to the United States "as a free man to prove my innocence." Adamov stands accused of diverting U.S. Department of Energy money intended to improve Russian nuclear security into private projects in the U.S., Ukraine and Russia; he has been indicted by a grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy to transfer stolen money and securities, conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and tax evasion.

Switzerland's top court on Thursday ordered Adamov, who was arrested in the Swiss capital in May, to be extradited to his homeland instead of to the United States because he is a Russian citizen and the crimes he is accused of were committed in his homeland.

Adamov said in the statement distributed by his Washington-based lawyer, Lanny Breuer, that he was satisfied with the Swiss court's ruling.

"On the other hand, as a man who prizes his reputation, I wish to clear my name of the groundless charges made by the U.S. government," he said. "A trial in the USA would correct the misperception, firmly rooted in U.S. public opinion, that Russia's top-echelon authorities of the 1990s were thoroughly corrupted."

"As soon as I return to Russia, I will assert my right to appear before a U.S. court as a free man to prove my innocence." Adamov was appointed atomic energy minister in 1998 but faced corruption allegations.

In 2001, the anti-corruption committee of Russia's State Duma, or lower house of parliament, accused Adamov of illegally setting up companies inside and outside Russia, including a consulting firm called Omeka registered in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Adamov was dismissed from his post in March 2001 in a Cabinet reshuffle by President Vladimir Putin.

Adamov said that even before he had left for Switzerland, he had asked his lawyers to negotiate a trip to the United States to take part in an expected trial. But he indicated that such a trip might be complicated by the fact that as a former Russian government official who held state secrets, his foreign trips were restricted by "relevant procedures,” reports Interfax. I.L.

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