Russia’s extradition request for Murat Gasayev raises questions over the right of asylum

Several human rights organizations have formally asked the Spanish Government to respect the right to political asylum of Murat Gasayev, an Ingush man accused by the Russian Government of taking part in terrorist acts · Amnesty International has already highlighted the risks he could face if extradited to Russia.

In 2005 Murat Gasayev, a citizen of Ingushetia (or Chechnya, according to some sources), fled from the Russian Federation and sought political asylum in Spain. When the Spanish Government asked the Russian authorities for information on Gasayev, they claimed that he was a terrorist who had attacked government buildings in Ingushetia. Gasayev was arrested by the Spanish police in 2006.

Since then, several Chechen NGOs, including the Chechen Committee for National Salvation (CCNS) and the Committee for the Affairs of Forced Migrants, have asked the Spanish Government to grant asylum to Gasayev. The director of the CCNS, Ruslan Badalov, warns that Gasayev could suffer “a painful death in torture chambers” if he is extradited to Russia.

Last February Amnesty International launched an online petition directed at the Spanish Prime Minister and Justice Minister, claiming that “Russia’s ‘democratic guarantees’ could not be trusted in the Gasayev case” and that asylum-seeker could be mistreated and face an unfair trial if sent back to Russia.

Gasayev’s story has been taken up by Osservatorio Caucaso, which recently published a lengthy article explaining how Gasayev’s name was extracted from a prisoner under torture and has been linked to armed attacks in Ingushetia ever since.

For some time now experts have been highlighting the deterioration of democracy in Ingushetia. Opposition to the highly corrupt pro-Russian government faces systematic persecution and, as support for Islamic radicalism increases, the republic could become as political unstable as neighbouring Chechnya.

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