FIFA investigator denied entry to Russia

ESPN staff
October 4, 2013

Russia has said it will not allow FIFA's chief investigator Michael Garcia to enter the country because he is on the "Guantanamo List" issued in a human rights dispute between Russia and the US.

FIFA has appointed former United States attorney Garcia to investigate "any violations of the ethics code" in the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Recently, it emerged that he had found evidence that political influence had played a role in some executive committee members' voting.

France Football reported earlier this week that Garcia, a former district prosecutor in New York, was to begin a worldwide tour of all the countries involved in the bidding process.

However, he is on Russia's list of Americans barred from the country for his part in prosecuting Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US after being convicted of conspiracy to kill American citizens and officials by smuggling arms to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Russia has argued that Bout's treatment is politically motivated, and that Garcia made prejudicial statements to the media regarding his case. The "Guantanamo List", issued earlier this year, had initially consisted of 11 officials accused of running America's Guantanamo Bay military detention camp, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has described as "medieval". The list has since been expanded.

It was issued as part of a continuing dispute with the US over human rights, with Washington having introduced the Magnitsky Act in December.

That legislation denied entry to Russian officials suspected of involvement in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow pre-trial detention centre in 2009, as well as other human rights abuses.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday: "Let there be no doubt: We intend to react firmly to unfriendly attacks and unceremonious infringements on the rights of Russian citizens. Anyone who is involved in such things should think hard.

"Questions arising in connection with visa blacklists should be addressed to the initiators and executors of the extraterritorial and discriminatory Magnitsky Act, which contradicts norms of international law."

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