MOSCOW, October 14 (RAPSI) – Russia’s Justice Ministry has forwarded a request for return of pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who is serving a 20-year sentence in the U.S. for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, to the Foreign Ministry for its onward transmission to the United State, RIA Novosti reported on Friday.

As it was reported on Tuesday, the Justice Ministry received a petition filed by a lawyer of Yaroshenko over potential transfer to Russia. The Ministry announced that it would file corresponding appeal to the competent authorities of the United States, which is going to be sent to the U.S. side through diplomatic channels.

This September, Yaroshenko in an interview to Izvestia newspaper claimed that U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons asked him to sign a document on transfer to Russia.

According to Yaroshenko, such transfer is regulated by the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons adopted in 1983. Yaroshenko noted that several years ago the Russian Justice Ministry made a request to transfer the pilot to Russia under conditions of the Convention but U.S. side rejected this motion.

Yaroshenko said that he did not want this petition to be presented by the U.S. side and that he would prefer to sign a petition offered by the Russian Justice Ministry since he is not sure about motivation of the U.S. authorities. Nevertheless, the pilot signed the petition on September 13.

Konstantin Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia on May 28, 2010 and flown to the United States soon afterwards. On September 7, 2011, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for colluding to smuggle cocaine into the United States. He was caught after replying to an advertisement posted by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents who claimed they were selling a cargo plane for $1.

He is serving time in the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey.

In late May, a US court rejected his appeal for a retrial. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said this is evidence that Yaroshenko’s conviction was politically influenced.

It was reported in February 2014 that Yaroshenko experienced strong migraine headaches and heart pain, which could be symptoms of a possible heart attack. Moscow has repeatedly expressed concern over the pilot’s health and pledged to continue working to ensure respect of his rights in the United States.