Russian businessman sought by U.S. is pawn in political game - lawyer

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GENEVA, June 10 (Reuters) - A Kremlin-linked Russian businessman fighting extradition to the United States from Switzerland is the victim of a U.S. political campaign that seeks to snare him on trumped-up insider trading charges, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The Swiss justice ministry said on Wednesday that police had detained Vladislav Klyushin, whose Russian company offers media monitoring and cyber-security services to clients including the Russian presidency and government, on March 21 on a U.S. arrest warrant. read more

Klyushin was on a family ski trip to Zermatt at the time, attorney Oliver Ciric told Reuters, questioning how U.S. authorities could have been aware of his private travel plans.

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Ciric said his client firmly denied allegations raised in a Massachusetts court that he enriched himself thanks to access to confidential information about listed U.S. companies.

"We take the position (that) the U.S. request for indictment and extradition is disingenuous and the real reason for his arrest and the request for extradition to the United States is in connection with the nature of his work and contacts within the Russian government," he said.

This gave him access to "certain security information related to the Russian government, which in our opinion (is) the reason for his arrest", Ciric said.

"We think the U.S. request for extradition and related indictment are only a pretext for getting Mr. Klyushin to the United States in connection with another politically motivated case," he added without elaborating.

The United States in April imposed a broad array of sanctions on Russia to punish it for interfering in last year's U.S. election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions. read more

News that Switzerland had detained Klyushin emerged just ahead of a June 16 summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The Swiss justice ministry decides extradition requests but they can be appealed to the Federal Criminal Court and Switzerland's highest court, the Federal Court.

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Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva Editing by Mark Heinrich

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