September 1, 2009
It’s a great relief that Gasayev is out of detention, but he should never have been there in the first place.
Tanya Lokshina, deputy Moscow director

Murat Gasayev, an ethnic Chechen accused of participation in an attack on government buildings in Ingushetia in June 2004, was released by Russian authorities without charge on August 28, 2009, after 10 months in pretrial detention. Spain extradited Gasayev to Russia in December 2008.

Gasayev had fled to Spain after he was arrested in Ingushetia in August 2004 on suspicion of involvement in the attacks. According to Gasayev, he was tortured for three days and then released without charge.

"It's a great relief that Gasayev is out of detention, but he should never have been there in the first place," said Tanya Lokshina, deputy Moscow director at Human Rights Watch. "We hope that the Russian authorities will now let him rebuild his life."

The senior investigator in charge of the case ruled on June 30, 2009, that all charges should be dropped against Gasayev, whose alibi was corroborated by five witnesses. Much of the case, and the extradition request to Spain, appears to have been based on statements made under interrogation by another detainee, Idriss Matiev, naming Gasayev as a participant in the June 2004 attacks. Matiev later retracted this statement, alleging that he had been subjected to beatings, torture with electricity, and threats against his family.

Human Rights Watch wrote privately to the Spanish National Court in June 2007 and the Spanish justice minister in May 2008 opposing Gasayev's extradition to Russia, in light of the prior allegations of torture and continuing risk of such treatment for terrorism suspects in Russian custody.  The 2008 letter expressed deep concern at the Spanish government's plans to use diplomatic assurances from Russia as a safeguard against torture and ill-treatment, noting the unreliability of such assurances, and the fact that Russia had breached such assurances in the past.