A Nigerian Instagram star accused of multimillion-dollar fraud was kidnapped by the FBI and taken to the US, his lawyer claimed to the BBC on Friday.
Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, who goes by the name “Hushpuppi” on his popular Instagram page, was arrested alongside another associate by Dubai police in June.
Abbas and Olalekan Jacob Ponle were both accused of carrying out cyber-heists online to fund the extravagant lifestyle they showed off on Instagram, where Abbas had 2.5 million followers.
The pair appeared in a Chicago court on July 3, according to the BBC, despite the United Arab Emirates and the US not having a formal extradition treaty.
A US Department of Justice spokesperson told the BBC that Abbas was expelled from Dubai and was not extradited. The BBC reported that the spokesperson did not answer how he ended up in US custody.
However, Abbas’ lawyer told the BBC that he believed the FBI had acted illegally and “kidnapped” Abbas from Dubai.
“In my opinion, the FBI and the government here acted illegally when they kidnapped him from Dubai without any legal process to do so,” lawyer Gal Pissetzky told the BBC.
The lawyer also said that Abbas had not committed fraud and instead funded his lifestyle legitimately through social media.
“He is a social media influencer with millions of followers, with millions of people that respect and loved him, and he loved them, and that’s what he did. In today’s society, that’s a business,” said Pissetzky.
Dubai Police released a cinematic Arabic-language video detailing their arrest of Abbas back in June.