18 January 1992
Latest news on international kidnapping case by the Associated Press newswire

Three Countries Cooperate to Free Australians Kidnapped in Russia


U.S., Australian and Russian authorities teamed up to arrest 10 people accused of kidnapping two people near Moscow and trying to extort $ 1.6 million from their relatives in New Jersey, the FBI said Friday.

The Australian couple were held eight days before the FBI, working with a former branch of the Soviet KGB and Australian federal police, discovered where they were being held, the FBI said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Russian police raided a country dacha 30 miles outside Moscow, freeing the woman and arresting five people, the FBI said. Early Thursday, Russian authorities stormed a Moscow hotel room and released the businessman, arresting another five people, the FBI said.

Authorities found them by monitoring phone calls made to relatives, the FBI said.

Although authorities wouldn't identify the couple, a Philadelphia lawyer involved in the case said they are Daniel and Ivonny Weinstock.

Dimitry O. Afanasiev, an associate of the Philadelphia law firm Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen, said the businessman's company, SovAustralTechnika, was an Australian-Russian electronics firm.

Dr. Israel Rayman of Wayne, N.J., a brother-in-law of the Australian businessman, contacted the FBI on Jan. 9 and said he had received two telephone calls the previous day from Weinstock, the agency said.

Weinstock told him that he and his wife were being held against their will and wouldn't be released unless $ 1.6 million was wired to an account at the Bank of Foreign Trade in Moscow, the FBI said.

Afanasiev, whose firm has extensive Russian connections, said he established the communication links between the FBI and the Russian Agency for Federal Security, formerly a branch of the Soviet KGB.

Authorities from the three countries pinpointed the victims' location by monitoring subsequent calls the victim placed to Rayman over several days, the agency said.

The 10 are in the custody of Russian authorities, who will prosecute them, FBI spokeswoman Monica Baldwin said.

Christopher Sweeney, a counselor at the Australian Embassy in Washington, said the couple had been living in Russia at the time of their abduction.

"It was very unusual to have the equivalent of the KGB assisting the FBI, but a good sign in terms of the end of the Cold War," Sweeney said.

Rayman couldn't be reached at his office in Wayne, N.J. His answering service said he was away for the weekend.

Spokesmen for the Russian Embassy in Washington didn't return a telephone call Friday evening.