Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky, whose extradition is being sought by Moscow, has been granted political asylum in the United Kingdom.
An aide to Berezovsky, one of Russia's richest and controversial men, said the asylum decision came in an official letter dated 9 September.
"He has been granted political asylum. We don’t know how it affects extradition proceedings," the aide said.
Once a close ally of former Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, Berezovsky came to London seeking to avoid prosecution over his business dealings during turbulent post-Soviet reforms
He was arrested in London on an extradition request in March, but was then released on bail. The case is due to be heard before a London court again in October.
The aide claimed Berezovsky has now been recognized as a refugee as defined by the 1951 Geneva Convention.
"He has been granted political asylum. We don’t know how it affects extradition proceedings"
Aide to Berezovsky
The British Home Office, which deals with immigration matters, has not confirmed the claim though.
Once a powerful oil and media magnate with strong political links, Berezovsky fled to UK in 2000 after Russian prosecutors launched fraud charges against him.
Berezovsky, whose relations with current Russian President Vladimir Putin is strained, has dubbed the prosecution as politically motivated.