BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court ordered the immediate release of a Russian mother whose case garnered international attention after she was convicted of kidnapping for moving her children from the U.S. to Russia amid a divorce.
Bogdana Alexandrovna Osipova, who is referred to by her married name of Mobley in court documents, was convicted in Kansas last year of one count of international parental kidnapping and two counts of attempting to extort money.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the two extortion convictions in August but upheld the conviction for parental kidnapping, sending the case back to U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren for resentencing.
Federal prosecutors did not fight the panel's decision, telling Melgren in a filing that further review was not authorized by the Solicitor General's Office.
Osipova, who has been imprisoned since her 2017 arrest, sought her release because she had already served the maximum three-year prison sentence allowed on the remaining count. She filed an emergency appeal after Melgren did not immediately free her.
The federal appeals panel told Melgren on Wednesday to order her release and schedule a date for resentencing via videoconferencing. It also “strongly” encouraged him to consider releasing her to the custody of her mother and stepfather in New York pending resentencing.
Her attorney, Craig Divine, did not immediately return an email message Thursday seeking comment.
Osipova, who has dual Russian and U.S. citizenship, left Wichita, Kansas, in 2014 with one child from her first marriage and another child from a second marriage to Brian Mobley, an Air Force recruiter. She gave birth to a third child soon after returning to Russia.
The Kansas judge awarded sole custody to her ex-husband because she had left the U.S. without court approval or Mobley’s knowledge. A Russian court awarded custody to Osipova.
Osipova was arrested in September 2017 after returning to the U.S. without her children to change child support arrangements.
Her case has sparked an international tug-of-war. Russia demanded last year that Osipova be released, while U.S. Rep. Ron Estes called on Russia to reunite the Kansas father with his children.