The Americans have acknowledged the violation of the international law in the story with the detention of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko. US special services arrested the Russian citizen two months ago in Liberia, an African country. He was charged with the transportation of large batches of drugs. The Americans forced the pilot to move to the United States to put him on trial there.
Russian diplomats confirmed that they had received the message about the arrest of the pilot after it had happened, which marked a gross violation of the international law on the part of the United States.
At first US officials claimed that they had not violated anything. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that the Russian diplomats had been promptly notified about Yaroshenko's arrest. The next day, Mr. Crowley had to change his mind and to acknowledge that the USA had violated the norms of the international law.
US officials, Crowley said, informed their Russian colleagues about Yaroshenko's detention in oral form within 72 hours after the pilot's arrival in the States.
The State Department blamed the error on a US official who hit the wrong button on a fax machine and sent the notification not to Russia, but to a third country. That is quite a hilarious explanation indeed.
Crowley said that after Yaroshenko attended a court hearing in New York on June 1, U.S. officials tried but failed to notify Russian diplomats that they could have access to the prisoner, The Associated Press reports.
"We just happened to send (the notice) to the wrong embassy," Crowley said. "Normally we try to arrange these consular notifications within 72 hours and we didn't discover our error until it was after that period of time," The AP quoted the official as saying.
"We have apologized to Russia," Crowley said, and the U.S. considers the matter to be closed.
The fact that Crowley did not name that "third country" which received the fax from the US State Department may mean that the US official is lying.
Nevertheless, the USA has acknowledged its mistake, which is an extremely rare occasion for the United States. One has to give Mr. Crowley and other officials credit for that. They had courage to say that their country violated the international law, although in a very original form.
The scandal with Mr. Yaroshenko is not over yet. He still faces the prison term of up to 40 years. The USA does not have a right to put Yaroshenko on trial because he had never crossed the US border before May 2010. Therefore, he could not commit the crime which could entail criminal persecution.
US prosecutors claim that Yaroshenko delivered narcotic substances to the USA via Africa, which is a rather strange allegation from the geographical point of view. Venezuela is much closer to the States that Liberia. It would be much easier to deliver drugs via Mexico, the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico.
Russia showed in this scandal that it is not going to turn a blind eye on US lawlessness against its citizen. Most likely, Russia will have more questions to the States during Yaroshenko's trial.