20 January 1992
Article in "The Herald Sun" on international kidnapping case

Spies save couple from kidnappers

A Melbourne businessman and his wife have survived a week-long kidnap ordeal in Moscow in an amazing rescue tale involving international spy organisations.

Dan Weinstock and his wife Yvonne, of Elwood, were abducted from Moscow International Airport on January 8. Authorities said Mr Weinstock, the owner of Video Technology Ltd, and his wife were kidnapped because of a dispute over a business deal. Mr Weinstock was involved in a deal in which he was to export computers and import fertiliser from the then Soviet Union. Last night, FBI agents said: "It appears the victims may have been physically abused and beaten."

Their kidnappers demanded a ransom of $2.16 million. The couple, reportedly still in Moscow trying to firm up the deal, were freed separately last Wednesday and Thursday.

A spokesman at the Australian Embassy in Moscow said last night: "They are both safe and well. They have insisted that the incident be given no publicity and we do not know of their whereabouts.

"It is a disappointing attitude considering what efforts were made to save them." Ten people, have been arrested after an international operation involving the Russian Agency for Federal Security, formerly the KGB, and the American FBI.

Authorities said Mr Weinstock called his brother-in-law Israel Rayman in New Jersey to deliver the ransom demands. Mr Rayman sought help from a Philadelphia law firm with extensive business and government contacts in Moscow.

Instrumental in the successful kidnap rescue was a former Russian assistant district attorney, now Philadelphia lawyer, Mr Dimitry Afanasiev.

From Philadelphia last night, Mr Afanasiev told the Herald-Sun: "I know very little about Australia, I know even less people from Australia, but I knew if these Australians were going to get out of this alive, they would need somebody who knows the Russian bureaucratic system.

"It takes a while to get things moving over there, and the inquiry into the kidnapping could have been delayed by all the red tape . . .time was of the essence." Mr Afanasiev was able to get information to the FBI which passed it on to the Russian Agency for Federal Security.

FBI agent Bob Brown said: "We received several phone calls (from Mr Rayman) saying his relatives were being held against their will in Russia.

"It appears the victims may have been physically abused or beaten." Authorities said the kidnappers were so confident they were beyond the reach of the law that they left telephone numbers where they could be contacted in Russia.

Federal security agents traced the calls on January 12, but the kidnappers moved to a new hiding place. FBI agents monitored all calls from the kidnappers to Mr Rayman.

Using information from investigators in Russia, Australia and the US, authorities were led to the kidnappers' hideout 65km from Moscow, where they found Mrs Weinstock.

A day later, Mr Weinstock was found at a hotel in Moscow.

Mr Afanasiev spoke to Mr Weinstock on Friday and said the businessman was still keen on Russia as a place to do business.

"He will be in Russia for a little while longer. He told me: 'I'm not leaving this place until I close the deal'."