by Staff Writers
Vilnius (AFP) Aug 14, 2013
A Lithuanian court on Wednesday ruled to extradite a Russian man to the United States on charges of arms smuggling, drawing protest from Moscow.
The Baltic state's court of appeals ordered that Dmitry Ustinov, 47, be extradited because of the agreement in place between Vilnius and Washington.
"The decision was taken to reject an appeal," judge Linas Zukauskas told AFP.
Lithuania, which currently holds the rotating half-year EU presidency, detained Ustinov in April on a request from the US justice department, according to the prosecutor's office in Vilnius.
A Delaware court issued an arrest warrant on May 10 against Ustinov on charges of laundering money and smuggling night-vision devices, according to the ruling on the Lithuanian court's website.
The ruling added that both Lithuania and the US list the devices as weapons.
His Lithuanian lawyer argued Wednesday that the US had not provided enough evidence in support of his extradition, adding that his client claims innocence.
"The US is saying it was military equipment. But the data provided by them is not sufficient to rule if it was military or civilian," Drasutis Zagreckas, the lawyer, told AFP.
The Russian embassy in Vilnius denounced the court's decision as "rash", saying it pointed to bias against Russia.
"The actions by American and Lithuanian law enforcement do not help to improve the atmosphere in Russian-American and Russian-Lithuanian relations," the embassy said in a statement.
Lithuania broke free from the Soviet Union in 1990 and joined both NATO and the European Union in 2004.
The small nation of three million people is one of the staunchest allies of the United States in Europe.
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