Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of meddling outside its jurisdiction by arresting officials from FIFA.
“This is yet another blatant attempt [by the United States] to extend its jurisdiction to other states,” the Russian president said on Thursday.
Putin added that the arrests were a “clear attempt” to prevent the re-election of Fifa head Sepp Blatter and that the Swiss had Russia’s backing.
“It looks very strange, the arrests are carried out on the request of the USA side,” he said.
“They are accused of corruption – who is? International officials. I suppose that someone broke some rules, I don’t know. But definitely, it’s got nothing to do with the USA. Those officials are not US citizens. If something happened it was not in the US and it’s nothing to do with them.
“It’s another clear attempt by the USA to spread its jurisdiction to other states. And I have no doubt – it’s a clear attempt not to allow Mr Blatter to be re-elected as president of Fifa, which is a great violation of the operating principles of international organisations. The US prosecutor, as our media report, has already said that those Fifa officials have committed a crime. As if the prosecutor didn’t know about the principle of the presumption of innocence.”
Citing former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, both of whom have evaded prosecution in the United States by hiding abroad, Putin questioned Washington’s right to request the Fifa officials’ extradition.
“Unfortunately, our American partners use such methods to achieve their selfish aims and illegally persecute people. I do not rule out that in the case of Fifa, it’s exactly the same,” Putin said.
Russia won the rights to stage the 2018 World Cup under Blatter’s auspices. That 2010 decision, along with the award to Qatar of the 2022 tournament, is the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation running parallel to the US action.