LONDON — Britain released a Chechen rebel envoy from police custody Friday, drawing sharp criticism from Russia, which compared the man to Osama bin Laden.
Acting on a request from Moscow, which is waging a lengthy war against separatists in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, British police arrested Ahmed Zakayev when he arrived at London's Heathrow Airport from Denmark on Thursday night.
British police freed Zakayev on $78,500 bail early Friday, ordering him to attend an extradition hearing Wednesday.
Moscow was furious.
"What if another terrorist had come to London -- Bin Laden, who, like Zakayev, is under an international search?" asked Russian Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov, who was in Portugal for a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"And if Bin Laden had said new terrorist acts were being prepared against civilian targets in the U.S., how would he be dealt with?" Ivanov said.