Joseph Brand, a partner in the firm's Washington office, appeared in Legal Times' "BLT" blog on January 8, 2009, about the firm's attempt to release Emanuel Zeltser, an American citizen, from a penal colony in Belarus.
The firm has filed an urgent complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee alleging that the Belarusian government is violating the civil and political rights of Mr. Zeltser, a 55-year-old New York resident.
Mr. Zeltser recalls only that on March 12, 2008, he was sipping coffee at a café in London. His next memory is waking up and finding himself on a private plane bound for a KGB-monitored detention center in Minsk, according to the 21-page document filed with the United Nations demanding his immediate release.
Over the past nine months, Mr. Zeltser has faced physical beatings, inhumane and unsanitary treatment, according to the complaint. Belarusian authorities have continuously withheld physician-prescribed medications to treat his debilitating diabetes, heart problems and severe arthritis. At one point, they even withheld a mattress. A witness said his handcuffs were so tight that there was "no blood circulation," according to the complaint.
The firm filed another complaint on January 8, 2009 with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture.
"I wouldn’t have thought in the 21st century we’d be doing a James Bond movie like this," Mr. Brand told the Legal Times. Mr. Brand, who leads Mr. Zeltser’s representation to the United Nations, calls the case "Kafka-esque." "This is the Soviet Union at its worst."