American Citizen Illegally Jailed in Russia for Three Years

Dec 16, 2010, 19:55 ET from Qorvis Communications

Arkadi Gontmakher: Innocent With No End In Sight

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United States citizen Arkadi Gontmakher was found innocent by a unanimous jury panel on all articles of charges in Russia today, but inexplicably rearrested before he could leave the courtroom. Gontmakher had been detained in a Russian prison for three years while the prosecutors investigated allegations against him for overfishing – a charge punishable by maximum two year-sentence. Today, following his acquittal, Russian police immediately rearrested and charged Mr. Gontmakher with an almost identical set of charges.

"Mr. Gontmakher has been in jail for nearly 39 months – far beyond the lawful limit in Russia. He was tried and found innocent of all charges. But he has not been freed," said Joseph Brand, an attorney for Gontmakher. "The Russian Militia (Police) will not release Mr. Gontmakher, and his life is now at stake as he faces almost identical set of charges. This outrageous action by the Russian Militia (Police) violates Mr. Gontmakher's inalienable rights to life, liberty, and due process of law," said Brand.

What has been an ongoing human rights abuse is now transformed into an urgent humanitarian crisis. Mr. Gontmakher's heart is failing. He was rushed to the hospital twice today, where he remains now in a cardiac center surrounded by four armed guards.

Mr. Gontmakher suffers from a serious heart condition that needs immediate treatment. He experiences severe arrhythmias on a daily basis and often loses consciousness. The necessary treatment is an angiogram, a pacemaker, and daily medication and treatments. The most effective physician-recommended treatment can only be performed in specialty arrhythmia centers in the United States. At his current location, even the basic medical treatment required is impossible to obtain, as Kamchatka (the Russian Far East) does not have a cardio-surgical center. Without immediate action, Arkadi undoubtedly faces dire results. This has been confirmed by Dr. Rubin Maidan, M.D., former president of the American Heart Association.

Urgent action is needed now to secure Mr. Gontmakher's immediate return to the United States before it is too late.

His wife and two sons believe they will never see their loved one again.

This information has been released by Qorvis Communications on behalf of the Gontmakher family.

SOURCE Qorvis Communications