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Gusinsky ordered to stay in prison

Gusinsky
The court rejected Gusinsky's appeal.  

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky will remain in prison while a Spanish court considers an extradition request from Russian authorities.

Gusinsky, 48, was arrested last December on fraud charges but released soon afterwards on $5.5 million bail.

He remained under house arrest at his villa in southern Spain until he was transferred to a jail in Madrid last week ahead of an extradition hearing in Spain's national court.

Gusinsky's lawyers appealed against the prison order, pending the extradition ruling, but the court's decision, published on Friday, rejected the appeal, stating that "the court continues to study the extradition case."

In a one-page court ruling, the court said that maintaining the prison order would not predetermine the outcome of the extradition ruling, "which will be issued soon."

Russian prosecutors have asked Spain to send Gusinsky home to face fraud charges stemming from a business loan involving his media company, Media Most.

Gusinsky last week told the court the charges were "false and absurd" and that they were politically motivated because his company has criticised the Russian Government. The loan has been repaid, he said.

He also told the court he had no intention of fleeing.

Gusinsky said his reputation has already suffered due to the charges and he has been seeking to sell part of his company.

Gusinsky owns Russia's only independent television network, NTV. CNN founder Ted Turner is among the interested parties.

The alleged fraud involved a loan to Gusinsky's company from Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly.

But Gusinsky's aides have repeatedly pointed out that Gazprom is not a party to the case, indicating, they said, the charges are groundless.

Gusinsky, who is a leader of Russia's Jewish community, has received support from Israeli leaders calling for his release.



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