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A Baker & McKenzie lawyer has been expelled from Russia amid claims that he turned down attempts by the country’s intelligence service to recruit him as a spy.
Lawyer Tom Firestone, formerly an employee of the US embassy in Moscow and now based in Washington office, joined Bakers last year. Prior to that he worked at the US Department of Justice, first as an assistant US attorney in the Eastern District of New York and then as resident legal adviser at the US Embassy in Moscow.
Firestone was returning to Russia on 5 May when he was detained at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow and held for 16 hours before being put on a flight back to the US.
In a statement, Bakers confirmed that Firestone was refused admission to Russia earlier this month but did not speculate on the reasons.
“Neither our colleague [Firestone] nor we have been informed of the reason for this action,” said Bakers. “We have no reason to believe that our colleague has engaged in wrongdoing of any kind. Until the reasons for the Russian government’s action are clear, we will have no further comment. Mr. Firestone is now working in our Washington, DC office.”
Firestone’s practice focuses on corruption risks and compliance, including transactional due diligence and internal investigations. He served as the lead US prosecutor in the extradition of Pavel Borodin, a Russian government official extradited to Switzerland to face charges of money laundering, prosecuted United States v. Abramov et al, a 17-defendant Russian organised crime case, and has conducted training programmes for Russian officials from the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) and other enforcement agencies.
At the weekend the New York Times reported that he had been declared “persona non grata” by the Russian state and barred from the country possibly because he had turned down efforts by the Russian Federal Security Service to recruit him as a spy.
Separately a Bakers’ spokesman confirmed that Firestone is no relation to Jamison Firestone, the managing partner of Moscow-based firm Firestone Duncan. Sergei Magnitsky, a former Firestone partner, died whilst being held custody in in Moscow in 2009 after allegedly being refused medical treatment (13 June 2011).