France to probe expulsion of Chechen dissident to Russia: Source

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The French judiciary is launching a probe into the controversial expulsion of a Chechen dissident back to Russia where he was subsequently jailed, a source said.

Magomed Gadaev, a prominent opponent of pro-Kremlin Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, was expelled from France in 2021 to the dismay of rights activists.

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Supporters described him as a dissident in danger in Russia, but the French interior ministry insisted he posed a threat due to alleged extremist tendencies and needed to be deported.

A judge from the crimes against humanity section of the Paris court has now opened an investigation into a complaint filed by the Human Rights League (LDH) as well as Gadaev’s wife and children, a source close to the case told AFP late on Thursday, asking not to be named.

The complaint targets French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin as well as two other officials including former Paris police chief Didier Lallement, the source said.

After arriving in Russia, Gadaev was arrested and sentenced to a year and a half in prison on arms possession charges. He was freed in August, according to Amnesty International and his wife.

But his wife says her husband remains under surveillance and cannot leave Russian territory.

Gadaev received refugee status in Poland in 2010 but then moved to France in 2012 where he was refused asylum.

His expulsion to Russia came as France moved against alleged radical elements in the Chechen diaspora after a Chechen extremist beheaded teacher Samuel Paty outside Paris in October 2020.

Darmanin visited Moscow days after the murder to discuss the issue with his Russian counterpart.

Kadyrov, a former warlord, has ruled the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic for the last decade and a half.

Rights groups accuse him of serial violations and using a private militia to crack down on opponents.

He has been one of the most vocal supporters in Russia of President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, even boasting he would send three of his teenage sons to the front line.

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