Тhe USA Wants Zhelyaz Andreev and Four Other Bulgarians Extradited

There is a request by Interpol for the temporary arrest of four more Bulgarian citizens with the same charges as Zhelyaz Andreev announced the Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.

He specified that there are two men - born in 1980 and 1986, and two women - born in 1987 and 1969, who were found by the Ministry of Interior authorities to be in Sofia. He also said that the only action that can be taken against them is issuing of a decree immediately, and after that, their detention.

"The detention is claimed on the same grounds as claimed for the detention of Zhelyaz Andreev - on the basis of the same accusations, on the same judicial acts that were issued. That means that the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor's Office should detain the persons for 72 hours and send their file to the corresponding competent district prosecutor who has to file a request for temporary detention at the Sofia City Court." Tsatsarov explained.

29-year-old Zhelyaz was arrested for an investigation in Florida on charges of violating an embargo on trade with Syria. He was arrested in Dobrich for 72 hours, and yesterday he was released from the prison with a detention order "Podpiska" (Subscription).

The Florida Prosecutor’s Office also blames him for fraud to the United States. In the period between May 2013 and April 2016, Zhelyaz was a Sales Officer at the Bulgarian office of the American company AW Tronics. He sold aviation parts to aircraft and helicopter companies and services. That's why it turned out that he had been responsible for selling parts to a Syrian Air company without blocking it on the basis that such a deal violates the US embargo imposed on Syria.

As an employee, Zhelyaz had an obligation to connect directly to clients by email and telephone and to offer products and services. He was given a portfolio of clients and he was not able to choose the companies to work with. He was appointed to a company registered in Bulgaria but with a central office in the United States and therefore he was unaware that his work was regulated not only by Bulgarian but by American law.

At the time of the conclusion of the deals, in the period between September 2013 and February 2014, Bulgaria and the EU did not impose an embargo on Syria. Among the companies he worked with was the above mentioned Syrian company. As a result of the total of 7 Syrian Air done deals in 2013 and 2014, Zhelyaz was found guilty of a crime involving a maximum sentence of 25 years in Florida, USA, and a fine of $1,250,000.

Zhelyaz left AW Tronics in April 2016 and almost a year later he learned from a former colleague that his name was among the defendants for illegal trade with Syria. The website of the US Prosecutor's Office makes it clear that, besides Zhelyaz, another eight people are accused, five of whom are Bulgarians.

By the orders of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has taken urgent action on the young man's case today. It was announced by the press center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that as instructed by Ekaterina Zaharieva, the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy Minister Yuriy Sterk invited Eric Rubin, the US Ambassador in Sofia, to a meeting.

At the request of Ekaterina Zaharieva Tihomir Stoichev, the Bulgarian ambassador to Washington has asked for an urgent reception by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer to clarify the demands of the American side.

Eventually, the decision for the possible extradition falls within the jurisdiction of the judiciary.

Bilyana Ninova

Bilyana Ninova is a Marketing specialist, content creator and hobby photographer.

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