As a key witness in the rare cases in which Chechen authorities were tortured and kidnapped, Magomed Gadaev fled Russia in 2010.
He sought refuge in France, but on April 9, France deported a 36-year-old asylum seeker to Chechen.
A decree to remove France’s interior ministry on April 9 – the day he was expelled – said Gadaev was “a staunch supporter of the most powerful group of Chechen Muslims” and “capable of violence” on French soil.
His dismissal was seen as a “very urgent matter”.
But human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have criticized the move, saying it violates international law and puts Gadaev at “a high risk of persecution.”
After arriving in Moscow, he traveled to the remote Siberian town of Novy Urengoy, where his brother lived.
While there, he called for police protection.
But Gadaev was instead handed over to the Chechen police.
Since then, he has been accused by Chechen authorities of possessing illegal weapons after a recent search of his father’s home – which he left 11 years ago – and is currently in prison in Chechnya awaiting trial.
“People [French] The government has done everything in its power to prevent me from making a decision, “Gadaev’s lawyer, Arnaud Toulouse, told Al Jazeera, referring to the limited time available to answer the case.
To date, three French courts had ruled that Gadaev should not be deported to Russia.
Maret, Gadaev’s wife, speaking from Limoges, where he lives with the couple’s five children, told Al Jazeera: “I don’t believe they are in their hands. I just think it’s a nightmare to come back to the room.”
In the meantime, she hopes to hear if she and her children can stay in France.
On April 14, five days after his ouster, Gadaev’s short-lived video was posted by several Instagram accounts in support of the current Chechen leadership.
The voice asks Gadaev to say he is alive and has not been beaten. Gadaev says, trying to smile.
‘People who witness often do not survive’
Gadaev, who fought in the Russian military during the Second World War in Chechen, was illegally detained in an underground police barracks (OMON) in Chechnya for four months at the end of 2009 – according to Oleg Orlov, a member of the Russian group. NGO Memorial.
“These men were ready to be killed,” he told Al Jazeera. “They were bound until their beards grew to shoot in the mountains like rebels.”
Orlov believes that the charges against him in Chechnya against Gadaev are false and that he could be tortured and sentenced to life in prison, if not to death.
“I’m afraid that [the Chechen authorities] they have set a good example for anyone who dares to criticize them, ”he said.
Relatives of Islam Umarpashev, arrested by Gadaev, filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and both men were released in April 2010.
Umarpashev then filed a complaint with the Russian Investigation Committee.
Like many Chechens fleeing to Europe, Gadaev began seeking asylum in Poland, which was granted.
But after receiving threats, he went to France with his family in December 2012. He testified from a distant France against Chechen special groups.
“People who witness torture and provide the names of those affected often do not survive,” Adam Dervishev, a Chechen refugee living in France, told Al Jazeera.
As a clear example of this, in 2006, Umar Israilov, a former soldier of Russia’s allied leader in Russia, Ramzan Kadyrov, and his father, all filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against the Russian and Chechen governments. .
The case was dropped after Israel took refuge. Umar Israilov was killed in Vienna in 2009.
Meanwhile, asylum seekers in Chechen encountered other difficulties in seeking asylum in Europe.
Polish border guards have always denied entry to asylum seekers in Chechen on the border with Belarus.
And under the auspices of the Dublin Regulation, a European Union law that establishes host countries, third parties such as Austria or Germany have begun denying protection to Chechens have passed through Poland.
“The authorities are having a hard time distinguishing between those who have reasons to save and those who do not,” said Olga Gulina, a Berlin immigration adviser.
He explained that German authorities often inquired about their flight to Russia.
“’Why does internal security not work in a 11-nation state?’ he asks. ”
Crackdown grows after being beaten
Shortly after arriving in France in 2012, Gadaev was a “fiché S” (“show ‘S’ register”) – in other words, known to police as a threat to national security, according to his lawyer, Toulouse.
Toulouse said the client’s case was based largely on “descriptive blanches”, unsigned and unreasonable reports from French spies, who announced Gadaev in recognition of two suspected men.
But the fight against those who registered for the “S” intensified after a spate of brutal attacks on the school’s Samuel Paty teacher, 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov on October 2020, 2020.
Two days later, France’s Foreign Minister Gérald Darmanin announced that 231 foreign nationals identified as security forces would be deported.
Ten days after his assassination, Darmanin went to Russia to meet with Russia’s interior minister and discuss their deportation.
Since then, Darmanin has been posting frequent updates on his Twitter account.
On January 26, it reported that 113 of the foreigners had left France, 83 had been detained at home or in prison, and 35 had been arrested.
At the time of publication, the French interior ministry had not responded to Al Jazeera’s request.
An order to remove the interior minister from Gadaev’s case, which Al Jazeera has seen, alleges that Gadaev was involved in various crimes, that he was convicted of beating an old Belgian woman and beating a man in prison.
“Yes. Gadaev was convicted in Belgium following a heated argument with a colleague, in 2017, four years ago. [The ministry] has put everything it can to get rid of it, which is not in line with terrorism, ”said Toulouse.
The judge added that Gadaev had been detained in a detention center last year, as anyone on the “S” registry who had lost his residency permit following Paty’s assassination order had been assassinated.
Toulouse denied Gadaev’s allegations of aggravated assault, as a way to further his client’s detention.
By law, administrative detention cannot last for more than three months.
Gadaev remained in custody for three months after that.
“Beating a boy in jail doesn’t make him a criminal,” the lawyer said.
Pascale Chaudot, who heads Comité Tchétchénie, said he had seen about five Chechen files listed on the “S”, which included benches.
“When I saw the files I was shocked. There was an explanation without explanation. The said-and-so man met a man who also had a report in town so-and-so at that time. With all these words do you think, well, is there anything else?” He said.
Looking ahead, many Chechens in the S registry are in danger of being expelled, according to Chamil Albakov, a spokesman for the Assembly of the Chechens of Europe, which Gadaev established.
“So far, we have about 20 people who have been registered in the S and have been rejected or removed,” he told Al Jazeera. “Of the men who have been deported, some are in prison in Chechnya with new charges against them, others are missing.”
Other European countries are also chasing Chechens, which raises concerns from remote areas.
In December 2020, a small group of Austrian Chechen members staged a protest against the deportation of 27 Russian citizens.
According to Husein Ishkanov, head of the Austrian Institute of Ichkeria, most of the deportees were young men convicted of petty crimes, such as theft or disorderly conduct – and spent time in prison – who lost their chance to escape the consequences.