Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash has been fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery and related charges for more than five years while in Vienna, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
But now he claims his prosecution by the U.S. is politically motivated and has enlisted some of President Donald Trump's allies to fight it, according to the newspaper.
The Journal attributed the information to court documents and individuals close to the case.
It said Firtash this past summer began to try to link the prosecution in his case to part of a larger political conspiracy including a purported pressure campaign in Ukraine by former Vice President Joe Biden and alleged irregularities in the investigation into Russia's 2017 election interference in the U.S.
Part of the case focuses on an affidavit by the former general prosecutor of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin. The affidavit alleged Biden pressured the Ukrainian government not to allow Firtash to return to the Ukraine. Shokin had been removed from his post after Biden told Ukraine to oust him in order to receive a $1 billion loan guarantee.
Firtash, whose wealth comes from brokering natural gas sales from Russia to Ukraine, hired two lawyers, Joseph DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, both supporters of Trump with ties to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Firtash declined to comment on the Journal article.
Firtash's activities are not part of the impeachment investigation, sources told the Journal. However, some Democratic lawmakers say they want to learn more about his links to the Trump camp.
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