By NBF News

Akhmed Zakayev was given political asylum in the UK in 2003

Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev has been arrested in Poland where he was due to attend a two-day Chechen congress, media reports say.

He had earlier been warned by Polish authorities he faced arrest because of a Russian warrant issued through Interpol.

Polish television said he was detained on his way to the prosecutor's office in Warsaw.

A close aide had said he wanted to ask prosecutors why he was being sought.

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The extradition procedure isn't the same as extradition'

Donald Tusk
Polish Prime Minister
Mr Zakayev, who is wanted for alleged complicity in terrorism by Russia, was spokesman for Chechen separatist president Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed fighting Russian forces in 2005.

He has been living in the UK, where he was given political asylum in 2003.

'No choice'
Before travelling to Warsaw, he said that he had received his Polish visa and meant to attend the congress, which is expected to attract 200 Chechen exiles to Pultusk, around 40 miles (60km) north of the capital.

Speaking yesterday, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that if the Chechen separatist leader were to be arrested, the courts might not agree to extradite him to Russia.

“The extradition procedure isn't the same as extradition,” he told Polish media.

A police spokesman said Poland was responding to an international arrest warrant and had no choice but to detain Mr Zakayev.

“He was arrested by plainclothes police as he was leaving a building,” Sokolowski told Polish television.

Mr Zakayev has served as a representative of the Chechen government in exile in the West since it was ousted by Russian military action in 2000.

Poland has been among the fiercest critics of Russian policy in Chechnya, although relations have warmed since the death of President Lech Kaczynski and other senior officials in an air disaster earlier this year.

Akhmed Zakayev's position as separatist leader has been called into question by other Chechen separatists.

Last year, he was declared an apostate and sentenced to death by a sharia court formed by the self-proclaimed emir of the “Caucasus Emirate”, Doku Umarov.