The lawyer for extortion suspect Serguei Fomitchev told a federal judge Thursday that Fomitchev is on a KGB "hit list" because he helped hockey star Alexander Mogilny defect from the Russian Army and join the Buffalo Sabres.
For that reason, Fomitchev, 31, used a false name and documents to obtain a visa to leave Russia in January, said the attorney, Robert J. Riordan.
"He was on the hit list of the KGB. There was a good reason why he came to America," Riordan told Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio during an arraignment Wednesday. "He was a wanted person in Russia for the reason that he brought Mogilny here as a defector . . . They (Russian authorities) have been hounding him ever since."
Riordan did not, however, provide any direct proof of his claim.
Already facing extortion charges, Fomitchev pleaded innocent to federal charges involving his use of a visa to travel from Moscow to the United States in January.
Fomitchev nonetheless admits that he did use the fake name, Riordan said. The attorney said his client is in a "Catch-22" situation. If he travels under his own name, the KGB, the former Soviet Union's secret police, will catch him, Riordan said.
The KGB was renamed the Russian Federation Security Ministry in 1992.
Riordan said Fomitchev has been chased by the KGB ever since he helped Mogilny move to Buffalo five years ago.