U.S. State Department questions Hungary’s commitment to law enforcement

In an unusual move the US State Department issued the following press statement on November 27, 2018:

Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC

The United States requested the extradition of two suspected Russian arms dealers, Vladimir Lyubishin Sr. and Vladimir Lyubishin Jr., pursuant to the U.S.-Hungary Extradition Treaty. Hungary denied the U.S. request and instead extradited the suspects to Russia, where it is unclear whether they will face trial.

The United States is disappointed in the Hungarian government’s decision to extradite the Lyubishins to Russia. The United States had a strong case, built in cooperation with members of Hungarian law enforcement. Hungary is a partner and friend of the United States, but this decision raises questions about Hungary’s commitment to law enforcement cooperation. This decision is not consistent with our law enforcement partnership, undercuts the work that our agencies had done together to build this case, and will make citizens in the United States, Hungary, and the world less safe.

Background: As part of a large scale US-led international sting operation, called Perseus, Hungarian authorities arrested two Russian arm dealers in Hungary on November 9, 2016. A week later District Court, S.D New York filed charges (United States v. Lyubishin 1:16-cr-00764) and initiated extradition procedures.

Russia also initiated extradition procedures and to the surprise of US officials, Hungarian authorities rejected the US request and transferred the Lyubishins to Russia!

Hungary-US relations were unfriendly during the Obama administration and now the relationship is turning openly hostile with Trump. Relations between the countries have reached a 30-year low. Hungary is firmly under Putin’s influence.

György Lázár

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