Switzerland has approved extradition of Yevgeny Adamov, a former Russian minister for nuclear power, to the United States, an official for the Swiss justice department said Monday.
Adamov, who was minister from 1998 to 2001, was arrested on May 2 in Berne at the request of the U.S. authorities, which suspect him of embezzling $9 million.
Both Russia and the U.S. sought his extradition from Switzerland. But the Swiss authorities took the view that the U.S. petition was a priority.
Adamov's lawyers now have 30 days to appeal against the decision in the Switzerland's highest legal body, the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne, reports RIA Novosti
According to Swissinfo, Russia has branded Switzerland's decision to extradite Adamov as "politically motivated". The Swiss authorities have vehemently denied the charge, saying the ruling announced on Monday was based solely on judicial grounds.
"If the Russians are accusing us, I regret that," said Rudolf Wyss, spokesman for the Swiss justice ministry. "They are disappointed and we are trying to explain the decision to them."
Wyss was responding to earlier claims from the Russian foreign ministry that the decision to extradite Adamov to the US and not to Russia was "at variance with judicial and objective circumstances".
The Russian authorities have been fighting the US extradition request for fear that Adamov could reveal nuclear secrets when he faces charges of stealing up to $9 million (SFr6.9 million) intended for improvements to Russia's nuclear security.
Adamov had earlier agreed to be extradited to Russia, where he faces fraud charges. The former minister has 30 days to appeal against Monday's decision.
"A few days ago Russia expressed the hope that the decision... would be legally, not politically motivated. Regrettably, that did not occur," said the Russian foreign ministry in a statement.