The USA are seeking extradition of their citizen from Ukraine. The person had been implicated in a double murder in the USA while visiting his country on a vacation from Ukraine. He participated in the war in the east of Ukraine with a far-right military formation.
Craig Lang, a former US soldier, is facing extradition from Ukraine due to charges of attempted robbery and a double murder committed in 2018 in Florida, US. Craig Lang had been mentioned earlier in connection with the FBI arrest of a US Army soldier who was preparing acts of terrorism.
Lang was named in a separate federal indictment as the alleged “mentor” to Army Pfc. Jarrett William Smith, who is accused of distributing formulas for explosives online, talking about killing antifa protesters and bombing CNN, the network reported. Smith had hoped to join Lang as a fighter in another extremist unit in Ukraine, where Lang currently lives, according to that complaint.
On 8.10, according to the Ukrainian Liga online portal, the appeals court in the city of Vinnitsa ordered a 60-day detention as a preemptive measure before extradition. The appeals court revoked the decision of the lower court on house arrest for Craig as preemptive measure.
The Ukrainian media depicts Craig Lang as “a supporter of Ukrainian independence who came to Ukraine in 2014 and joined the ranks of Pravyy Sektor as a volunteer”. Lang was arrested in Ukraine in the end of September 2019. The lower court hearing was held on September 28 in the city of Vinnitsa. Liga quotes Craig Lang´s lawyer, Dmitry Morgun, as saying that he regards the ruling to detain his client as unfair because “he had observed all the restrictions imposed by the lower court”.
According to the USA criminal court complaint from April 9, 2018, Craig Lang is charged with committing the murder of two people who had arranged to buy weapons from him and his associate, Alex Zwiefelhofer. According to an article published by The Washington Post, Lang and Zwiefelhofer had met in Ukraine where “both served with a far-right Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary group dedicated to battling Russian separatists on eastern Ukrainian soil. Itching for combat, they were enamored by the group’s stated goal of removing Ukraine from Russian or European Union influence”.
Craig Lang, according to Ukrainian media, got to Ukraine in 2015 when he joined the Pravy Sektor unit as a volunteer. The Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty states that as of 2017, Craig Lang was serving with the “Georgian battalion”. The journalist quotes Mamuka Mamulashvili, commander of this volunteer formation, in which, according to the media, “a number of foreign citizens are serving” and describing him as a ”good soldier”.
According to the Ukrainian online media Focus.ua, Lang signed a contract with the Ukrainian Armed Forces together with the Georgian batallion in April 2016, after Ukrainian legislation had been amended permitting foreigners to get official Ukrainian army IDs. According to the portal, Lang had been serving in the area of Svitlodar Bulge.
Ukrainian media, including Radio Liberty, points out that Lang is facing the death penalty if extradited to the USA. There have been numerous calls published in Facebook to prevent his extradition.
In early September Fakty.ua quoted Alexander Lavrinovich, the former Justice minister of Ukraine (in the Yanukovich government), as saying that “volunteers in the Ukrainian army who had participated in the anti-terrorist operation in Donbass could be made accountable because the legally ordered martial law had not yet been declared”. The same online portal also states that Lang cannot be extradited to the USA because “there has been no official extradition request from the USA except the diplomatic communication requesting the Ukrainian Justice ministry’s assistance in Lang’s deportation”.
Craig Lang was one of foreigners interviewed in 2016 by VICE. There Lang was described as a staunch anti-Communist who had been “in and out of jail in the USA”: “He told me he chose Ukraine over Syria for two reasons. First, seeing Maidan on the news convinced Lang that Ukrainians were serious about their national war of liberation. ‘These people fucking want change.’” Having served in Iraq, he thought that Iraqis were not serious about their sovereignty. “Iraqis give zero shits,” he said. Second, he takes Putin to be a communist. Lang, who describes himself as a strict constitutionalist, despises communism”.
Craig Lang and Alex Zwiefelhofer had planned to commit crimes, including “committing robberies, hot wiring and stealing boats and/or a yacht, escaping to South America and Ukraine, and smuggling firearms and ammunition,” according to the official US documents . Lang eventually traveled from the US to Cúcuta, Colombia, via Mexico City, to cross to border into Venezuela and fight the government. From there, he traveled to Madrid, Spain, and then on to Ukraine, where he was captured.