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US "kidnapped" hacker, claims Russian Foreign Ministry

With Russian and US relations already strained, the recent arrest of hacker Roman Velerevich Seleznev has caused further diplomatic difficulties.

The 30-year-old Russian national was arrested by the US Department of Homeland Security while in an airport in the Maldives before being transported to Guam for his first court appearance.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry has described the event as "kidnapping," a view that is echoed by the suspect's father.

In an interview with the ITAR-TASS news agency, Valery Seleznez said, "Kidnapping is a crime. The country must protect its citizens, and Roman should go back to Russia."

Roman Seleznev stands accused of bank fraud, identity theft and other computer-related offences. Between 2009 and 2011 Seleznev went under various handles, including Track2, nCuX and Bulba to commit his crimes. The five counts of bank fraud alone could each lead to 30 years in prison and a fine of $2 million (£1.2 million).

Russian authorities believe that the US arrest violates the 1999 treaty signed by the two parties and they have also criticised the Maldives for the role it played in Seleznev's apprehension.

"The stance of Maldives' authorities cannot be but outraging, since despite the existing international legislation norms they allowed another country's special service to kidnap a Russian citizen and take him out of the country," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "We demand that the Maldives' government provides necessary explanations."

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The diplomatic issue arrives when US-Russian relations are at their lowest point for years. The Obama Administration has criticised what it calls an "illegal intervention" in Ukraine and the latest dispute over Seleznev's arrest is only going to increase tensions between the two countries.