The Russian authorities must immediately release Chechen torture survivor Murad Amriev, and under no circumstances place his life at further risk by handing him over to the Chechen authorities, Amnesty International said today.
Having tried to flee to Belarus earlier this week, Murad Amriev was arrested and unlawfully handed back to Russian police officers early this morning. He is currently in custody in an unknown location in Russia, stoking fears about his fate.
“The story of Murad Amriev reads like a thriller, but it is real and his life is at stake. He was ‘handed over’ to the Russian authorities early this morning in what amounts to an unlawful rendition after he attempted to seek asylum in Belarus. Under no circumstances should the federal authorities of Russia deliver him into the hands of Chechen law enforcement officers, which could put him at risk of torture or death,” said Heather McGill, Russia Researcher at Amnesty International.
The story of Murad Amriev reads like a thriller, but it is real and his life is at stakeHeather McGill, Russia Researcher at Amnesty International
Murad Amriev, an amateur Mixed Martial Arts champion, was detained by Belarusian police officers as he tried to cross the Russian-Belarusian border on the night of 7 – 8 June. He was handcuffed to a radiator in Dobrush police station in Belarus and told he would be returned to Chechnya for prosecution. While in detention, he tried to claim asylum in Belarus and see his lawyer, but both requests were denied.
Early this morning the Belarusian police reportedly handed him back over to Russian law enforcement agents. His current fate and whereabouts are unknown.
Torture and escape from Chechnya
Murad Amriev fled Chechnya in 2013 after complaining that he was tortured by Chechen police officers in Grozny. He has since been living in exile in Ukraine.
Earlier this month he travelled to Russia to apply for a Schengen visa but was arrested in the west of the country on spurious charges relating to a mistaken birthdate in his passport.
Police in Bryansk, western Russia, released him on 6 June. But, while he was signing the release papers at the Prosecutor’s office, the building was surrounded by Chechen police officers who threatened to arrest Murad Amriev. Bryansk is some 1,800 km from Chechnya.
In a dramatic escape, he ran out of the building into a waiting relative’s car and sped towards the Belarusian border.
“There are no legal grounds to detain Amriev for the minor crime of a mistake in his passport – a fact that he has never concealed. He is being arbitrarily detained and must be released immediately. His life could depend on it,” said Heather McGill.