Bosnian charged with helping Russian tech smuggler flee justice

A Bosnian national has been charged with helping a Russian man flee justice after the latter was accused of smuggling banned military technology to the Kremlin regime. Since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has been blacklisted by many countries around the world.

Charges against Vladimir Jovancic, 52, were unsealed in a New York federal court on December 4th, accusing him of obstructing justice and helping fugitive Artem Uss escape back to Russia from Italy after a court there ruled that he should be extradited to the US.

Uss had already been charged by US authorities with heading up a global smuggling ring that aimed to supply the Russian military with millions of dollars worth of dual-use technologies, including advanced semiconductors and microprocessors for fighter aircraft, missile systems, smart munitions, radar, satellites, and other space-based military articles.

These items were shipped to sanctioned companies that service Russia’s defense sector. Some of the electronic components obtained by Uss have been found in Russian arsenals seized on the battlefield in Ukraine, which has been fighting off a Kremlin-launched invasion since February 2022.

However, Jovancic is not yet in US custody either. The charges were unsealed against him in absentia: he was arrested in the Republic of Croatia, where he is being held until he can be sent to New York to stand trial.

Uss was arrested in Milan by Italian police in October 2022, at the behest of the US, and released on bail to home detention wearing an electronic tag. His extradition was approved in March, but the following day, he escaped, allegedly with Jovancic’s help, and fled the country for the Balkans before making his way to Russia.

Though he remains at large, the FBI applauded the arrest of his alleged accomplice as a major step forward.

“Vladimir Jovancic was arrested yesterday for allegedly orchestrating Artem Uss’s escape from Italy by cutting off his ankle monitor and smuggling him through multiple countries,” said a spokesman. “The action yesterday is a stark reminder – if you interfere with US legal proceedings anywhere around the world, the FBI will find you, we will arrest you, and we will bring you to justice.”

If convicted, Jovancic faces up to 20 years in jail.

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