OSLO, Jan 23 (Reuters) – Norwegian police have detained a former commander of the Russian terrorist group Wagner who recently fled to Norway, but his lawyer rejected suggestions he could be extradited to Russia. .
A Russian prisoners’ rights group, Gulagu.net, published a recording of a telephone interview on Monday with Andrei Medvedev in which he urged Norway to let him stay and testify against in the private military group, which is fighting with the Ukrainian army in some areas. the most brutal battles of the war.
Medvedev said he was arrested and handcuffed on Sunday at a hotel where he was staying and taken to a detention center. Gulagu.net said Medvedev was told he faced deportation.
There was no immediate comment from Norwegian authorities on the case but Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, told Reuters: “The risk of extradition? No.”
The police detained Medvedev because there was a “disagreement” between them about the measures taken to ensure his safety, Risnes said.
“He is under security and we do not agree with the way he is being used. These things have caused controversy,” he said.
Medvedev escaped by crossing the Russian-Norwegian border and it is said he feared for his life when he witnessed the killing and torture of Russian prisoners brought to the front lines in Ukraine to fight for Wagner.
“My goal in coming here is first to save my life and second to tell the truth to people and the world,” he said in a phone interview with Gulagu.net, recorded on Monday .
He said he also wanted to “punish” Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, for the deaths of people killed on his orders in Ukraine.
Gulagu.net says Medvedev will face “assassination and death” for speaking out against Wagner when he returns to Russia.
“We are not white Medvedev. He has done a lot of bad things in his life,” said the rights group.
“But he saw the light, he knew this, he was ready and willing to work with the world, with international research and Norwegian authorities, he wanted to live and testify” against Wagner and Prigozhin, he added.
Medvedev was an orphan who joined the Russian army and served in a former prison turn up Wagner last July in a four-month contract that he said the group continued to extend without his consent.
He said he crossed the snowy Arctic Circle border into Norway, a NATO member, from Russia after climbing over wire fences and avoiding border patrol dogs.
Reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo and Mark Trevelyan in London Editing by Gareth Jones
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