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British Judge Allows Chechen Leader to Remain Free on Bail - 2002-12-11

A British judge says a Chechen separatist leader wanted by Russia can remain free on bail pending an extradition hearing in January. The case of Ahmed Zakayev could strain British-Russian relations.

A London court ruled Wednesday that Mr. Zakayev will remain free on bail pending another extradition hearing on January 9.

Judge Timothy Workman ordered Mr. Zakayev to surrender his passport and not move from the West London residence where he has been staying.

Russia says Mr. Zakayev is a wanted terrorist who should be tried on a 10-count indictment that includes charges of murder, attempted murder and armed rebellion.

Mr. Zakayev denies the allegations, and says he is putting his trust in the British legal system to prevent his extradition. He has support from British actress Vanessa Redgrave and the London-based human rights group, Amnesty International.

The Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, has compared Mr. Zakayev to Osama bin Laden, and he is sharply critical of Britain for releasing him.