“It’s not often that private individuals take on the entire State Department and win resounding victories in courts. It’s even rarer for the Justice Department to receive scathing legal judgments issued against it that openly accuse top-level employees of orchestrating politically motivated trials on sham charges. Yet this is exactly what happened last month when an Austrian High Court judge refused to hand over to the FBI one Dmitry Firtash, Ukrainian billionaire, after finding that there had been improper political interference from the US in the matter.
Essentially, the case revolves around supposed bribes given in 2006 by Firtash and his associates to Indian officials to launch a titanium project – a project that never materialized. After a grueling 13 hour hearing, Judge Christoph Bauer argued in his final decision that the case was “politically motivated” and rested solely on the testimony of two anonymous witnesses that the FBI refused to show before the court (the Judge questioned if those individuals were even real). He then accepted the line of defense put forth by Firtash, and acknowledged that the United States “attempted to pressure the President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, into accepting Ukrainian association with the European Union” and that “America obviously saw Firtash as somebody who was threatening their economic interests”, according to the New York Times.
(…) Behind the scenes and across the aisle, Republicans and Democrats joined hands to pressure the Yanukovych government, first into signing the Association Agreement with the European Union and snub Russia, before blackmailing the President to step down unconditionally. Make no mistake, this is not your run of the mill the-American-government-is-bad argument; this is lifted straight from the takedown administered by Judge Christoph Bauer in the Firtash case.
Indeed, the Judge saw the causation behind the correlation of events that led to Yanukovych’s fall and Firtash’s arrest. An initial warrant for his arrest was issued in October 2013, at the same time Nuland went to Ukraine to persuade Yanukovych to sign the EU deal. The request was rescinded four days later, signaling that the Undersecretary of State had obtained assurances from the Ukrainian president. It was only four days after the ouster of Yanukovych that the arrest request was renewed leading to Firtash’s arrest the same day the new Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, was visiting Washington.
Chillingly, even after the painful naming and shaming the US Department of Justice received from Austria, a country whose justice system is beyond reproach, Geoffrey Pyatt, our Ambassador to Ukraine renewed calls for Firtash’s arrest and extradition because “he must be brought to justice”. It’s worth noting that Firtash is not accused of any crimes and that Judge Bauer will most probably reject the appeal by US authorities.” (Read more: Foreign Policy Journal, 6/12/2015) (Archive)