MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian special forces shot dead a former Guantanamo Bay inmate in southern Russia on Wednesday, the FSB security service said, describing him as an extremist.
The FSB said Ruslan Odizhev had been shot along with another man in Nalchik, the capital of the tiny North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, but gave no further details.
“Odizhev was an active member of a regional extremist operation,” the FSB press office said.
Odizhev, born in 1973, was included in a report earlier this year by the New York-based Human Rights Watch on the alleged abuse in Russia of seven former inmates of the Guantanamo Bay prison after Washington handed them back to Moscow in 2004.
The FSB had placed Odizhev on its wanted listed in 2005 for allegedly helping to organize a raid by Islamic rebels on Nalchik when more than 100 people died.
Kabardino-Balkaria is in the largely Muslim Russian part of the Caucasus region, torn by overspills of violence from two wars in Chechnya fought by Russian soldiers and separatist rebels since 1994.
Odizhev was among seven Russians detained by the United States in Afghanistan in 2002 and sent to Guantanamo. All campaigned against going back to Russia, saying they would not be able to live normal lives there.
In a March report entitled: “The stamp of Guantanamo: The story of seven men betrayed by Russia’s diplomatic assurances to the United States”, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Odizhev and the others were harassed and constantly rearrested once they returned to Russia.
Odizhev is named in the report but the interviewers were only able to speak to his mother, who lives in Kabardino-Balkaria, as he had disappeared a few months after the Russian authorities initially released him.
Carroll Bogert, author of the HRW report, said Odizhev had experienced police brutality in Russia before heading to Afghanistan.
“Whatever the reasons he had for dropping out of sight after Guantanamo, fear of what the Russian authorities would have done to him if he had tried to start a normal life would have been a factor,” she said.
Two of the Russian former Guantananmo inmates are now in prison, another has been in custody since 2005 and the other three have fled Russia, Bogert said.