Feud brewing over accused Russian hacker's treatment - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Feud brewing over accused Russian hacker's treatment

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 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - As tensions between the United States and Russia continue, here on Guam another feud is brewing between the countries. And it all centers around a man Russia maintains was kidnapped from the Maldives and brought to Guam. The US on the other hand says Roman Seleznev is one of the world's "most prolific traffickers of stolen information".

The case of the accused Russian hacker has brought a team of Russian diplomats to Guam. We caught them on camera on Monday as they were leaving the Hagatna Detention Facility. KUAM News has learned however Seleznev is no longer there. "He was placed up here yesterday evening for medical observation," said Jose San Agustin, director of the Guam Department of Corrections.

According to Russian media Seleznev suffered brain damage from a 2011 terror bombing in Morroco.  He has been in Guam for almost two weeks after US authorities reportedly picked him up in the Maldives and brought him here.  Since being detained on island Russian media report he's been housed in substandard conditions such as a damp cell, forced to lay on concrete floors without a blanket and was not provided any essential hygiene products. Today San Agustin opens the doors to the room in the infirmary where Seleznev is now being housed temporarily.

San Agustin said, "He's got a bunk a mattress sheet a pillow also he's got a restroom and hygiene material toothbrush, and a bar of soap." When asked about the conditions in the Hagatna facility, San Agustin said, "It's actually the same setting with the exception of again the only one in that one room; the only one complaint is that he was too cold. My understanding was that the temperature in that room was 70-73 degrees but we did accommodate him by giving him an additional sheet as well. We are meeting all the minimum requirements that's both local and federal law."

Seleznev was moved to the Mangilao compound's medical unit because he's is in need of medication for his brain injury. According to San Agustin Guam does not offer the type of medicine he is required to take and instead has been provided an alternative and will be monitored over the next few days.  "Dr. Saad is confident that the medication is going to work and that's the reason for the observation," he explained.

As for the allegations of mistreatment, KUAM was able to talk with Seleznev, who speaks limited English. "In my country I have a doctor, hospital. When I come here they treat me well not like that so I have pills and in your country no pills that I need in Russia so they give me another one which is bad because I have serious problem with my brain and epileptic can start any time that's all," he said.

When asked if he asked to see a doctor when you got to Guam, he said he did so everyday. "I want to see a doctor because my medication almost finished and he must give me the same but then Dr. Saad came third day and he say I say find for you another medication and that's what I'm taking now. I don't know, I think its no good," referring to the medicine."

He added, "I also don't understand why I need to be isolated in room and go outside for walk. I don't know.

"I sit here in room all time."

Seleznev's father is a Russian politician who has vowed to protect his son. Russia calls this a case of kidnapping. The US State Department however denies those allegations. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, "Tthat this was a law enforcement action. It was based solely on law enforcement considerations. The indictment in this case was returned more than three years ago and thus predates - I think it's important to note - any current issues or current disagreements between Russia and the United States. He was arrested following his expulsion from another country under - acting under its own laws, and he was advised of his rights and given consular notification.

Seleznev is scheduled to appear in the US District Court of Guam next week. He was indicted three years ago in Washington State on multiple counts of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment he's charged with hacking into retail point of sales systems and installing malicious software on the systems to steal credit card numbers.  The crimes were not only perpetrated in the US but worldwide. Some of the banks he's accused of defrauding include Chase Bank, Capital One and Citibank.
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