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Russian embassy alarmed by possible mistreatment of Russian pilot Yaroshenko in US jail

Konstantin Yaroshenko was convicted in the US in September 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in prison

WASHINGTON, April 1. /TASS/. Russian diplomats in the United States are concerned by reports of ill treatment of jailed Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko and demand that his basic rights be ensured, the Russian embassy in Washington said on Saturday.

"Information about ill treatment of Konstantin Yaroshenko, serving his sentence in a US jail, causes extreme concern. [We] demanded that the facility’s administration stopped violating the fundamental rights of the Russian citizen," an embassy official said.

The embassy said it would continue to press for bringing Yaroshenko’s prison conditions into compliance with international standards.

Yaroshenko’s lawyer Alexei Tarasov told TASS by phone that Yaroshenko fears that more charges can be fabricated against him against the background of worsening Russian-US relations. Recently, the prison administration questioned and searched him without giving any reasons or explanations.

"Such an episode has indeed taken place without any reason. Konstantin fears that something can be planted to incriminate him, or he may be accused of something he did not do," Tarasov said, adding that Yaroshenko has complained of "prejudicial treatment" by prison authorities.

"Naturally, it all comes against the background of this complicated political situation in bilateral relations," the lawyer added.

He said the defense team and Russian diplomats closely follow the situation.

"Right now, he has not been accused of anything, there were no reports of him violating any rules," Tarasov said. "We follow and monitor this situation and maintain contact with Konstantin and his relatives."

Konstantin Yaroshenko was convicted in the US in September 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The pilot was brought to the United States from Liberia, where he was arrested on May 28, 2010. Agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration operating under cover allegedly exposed Yaroshenko’s criminal intention to transport a large batch of cocaine.

He pleaded innocent, described his arrest as a set-up and said all charges against him were fabricated.

Russia has repeatedly requested the United States to extradite Yaroshenko.