An American lawyer went on a lunch date in Moscow. Now he's languishing in a jail cell in Belarus

Youras Ziankovich is pictured in a screengrab from Belarus state television documentary, "To Kill the President." which included secret footage filmed in the Avignon restaurant in Minsk in 2020.

(CNN)When Youras Ziankovich, a lawyer with American citizenship, returned to his Moscow hotel after a lunch date with a friend in April, he found four men waiting for him in the street.

Ziankovich's wife, Alena Dzenisavets, says that according to the manager of the Nordic Rooms hotel, the men -- all in plain clothes -- put a hood over his head and bundled him into a car outside the hotel in the Moscow suburb of Ostankino.
She told CNN that Youras was then spirited across the Russian border in a three-vehicle convoy and driven more than 700 kilometers (435 miles) to the Belarusian capital, Minsk.
    Dzenisavets says she pieced together what happened to her husband through his court-appointed lawyer in Belarus. She has not had any direct contact with Youras for nearly three months.
      Ziankovich's lunch companion, Alexander Feduta, was detained at the same time. He, too, was driven to Minsk. Feduta served as spokesman for Alexander Lukashenko, in 1994, before falling out with the Belarusian leader. He went on to join the country's opposition.
      A well-known writer in Belarus, he spent time in jail after taking part in a protest in 2010.
      On arrival in Minsk, Ziankovich was taken to the Belarus KGB's pre-trial detention center. He has had occasional visits from the lawyer, but US consular officials have been unable to visit him in the weeks since he was hustled off a Moscow street.
        For the Belarusian authorities, detaining Ziankovich was part of a bigger play -- and they were about to make some dramatic claims.
        Six days after the abduction, President Alexander Lukashenko told journalists in Belarus of a plot to assassinate him and abduct his children, as part of a coup attempt.
        "We discovered the involvement of the apparently foreign intelligence services, most likely, the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI," Lukashenko said. "Agents flew from the United States, [someone called] Ziankovich. We were trailing and watching them."
        The US State Department quickly responded that "any suggestion that the US Government was behind or involved in an assassination attempt on Lukashenka is absolutely untrue."
        Youras Ziankovich, in an undated photo provided by his wife, Alena Dzenisavets.
        Two others were arrested in connection with the alleged plot, including Olga Golubovich, a former employee in Ziankovich's law firm. They have all been charged with "conspiracy or other actions committed for the purpose of seizing state power;" none has entered a plea.
        Belarus is also seeking the extradition of five others alleged to have been part of the conspiracy from the US and Lithuania.
        Konstantin Bychek, head of investigations for the Belarus State Security Committee, later announced that Ziankovich had confessed and was cooperating with the investigation. Bychek told Belarus state television that Ziankovich was involved in attempts to bribe members of Belarus's security forces to join the plot to overthrow Lukashenko.
        Alena Dzenivasets insists the charges against her husband are ludicrous and that if he confessed it was to save his life.
        When the Belarusian KGB found out Ziankovich was in Moscow, Bychek said, "we asked the [Russians] about the possibility of sending a group of Belarusian agents to Russia."
        How Belarus 'hijacking' has redrawn Europe's air map