“Marina Talashkova. © Photo: «Вести.Ru»”
The Voice of Russia on April 12, 2012 released the following:
“The extradition hearing date was set on April 10 during the court hearing for Russian flight attendant Marina Talashkova. She is in custody in Canadian prison now awaiting for the decision of her extradition to America. Marina Talashkova was detained by the Canadian authorities on January 15 by the US request. She was arrested over an alleged involvement in a multi-dollar Internet fraud case that occurred in the United States. Here on the line joins us her Toronto defense lawyer – Tyler Hudgson to discuss the new developments in Talashkova’s case.
Thank you very much for joining us.
Thank you for having me.
Mr. Hudgson, what are the most recent updates in the case?
The last court appearance on the case was yesterday, before the court appearance the Canadian authorities at the department of Justice provided us with the American statement of the case and the authorization to proceed from the Canadian Minister of Justice on extradition hearing relating to one count of fraud and one count of possession of stolen property.
US authorities had to present persuasive evidence of Talashkova’s involvement into the scam. So, what are Talashkova’s charges? What evidence did the Americans side present yesterday?
What I can tell you is what of the public knowledge at this time. The Grand Jury indictment is a public document and that document alleges that Marina withdrew money from various bank accounts in Nevada that she opened in her own name, and the deposits into these accounts were made by people that were attempting to purchase vehicles, and these vehicles were never actually provided. What I would point out is that there is no allegation that Marina opened any bank accounts using fake identification or passports, which is alleged for the members of the conspiracy and her role in this is limited essentially to a one week period in July of 2007. So, I think even on the documents that the American authorities have provided her involvement is quite limited.
Mr. Hudgson, what is being done to fight the charges in Talashkova’s extradition?
I can’t speak about what’s been provided too as it is a part of the statements of the case because those are not a part of the public record, they are not public documents. But what I can indicate is that the Americans as they were quite urgent on the extradition act have provided a certification from the prosecuting authorities that they have the evidence available to call in relation to the offences for which they seek to act later. And on yesterday’s court appearance her extradition was scheduled on May 24.
Do you think the American side has enough evidence to extradite her from Canada to the United States, as of yesterday?
That is a very good question and what I want to point out is – the test to extradite somebody is obviously very different from the test required to prove a criminal conviction. So, in order for the Americans to convict Marina or anyone of the criminal offense, they have to prove it beyond the reasonable doubt. To extradite somebody is a much lower threshold test and essentially it is that the prosecuting authorities, in this case the United States, simply are able to provide some evidence of a criminal conduct and the judge that presides the extradition hearing is not really allowed to delve into the quality of the evidence and to assess whether a knowledge is credible. So, it is a much lower threshold.
How does it look to you now? Do you think the Canadian authorities will decide to go ahead with an extradition proceeding?
Well, as I indicated we set the extradition hearing on May 24. At that time the judge decides whether or not there is a sufficient evidence to extradite her and the ultimate decision is left up to the Canadian Minister of Justice. We’ve been working in conjunction with the Russian Embassy in Canada. One of the issues that arisen is that there is no evidence that the Americans attempted to use the 1999 MLAA – Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that they have with Russia and instead adhered to wait until Marina flew to Toronto on a flight from Moscow to issue a provisional arrest warrant for her. And I think that certainly will become a live issue in her extradition hearing.
Let’s talk about 1999 US-Russian Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty you mentioned a second ago. One of the points in the agreement advises direct assistance between Russia and America and not the third party. Mr. Hudgson, do you think the US has ignored it in Talashkova’s case?
I think that it is fair to say that is certainly the position of the Russian conflict. And in a correspondence that we’ve reviewed and provided to the Canadian Department of Justice, I think the view is that there was an obligation on the United States authorities to use the MLAA that they have in Russia, and the fact that they did so and waited until she arrived in Canada isn’t a decent process. And that is certainly something that will be advocating her on the extradition hearing and ultimately it will be up to the judge to decide.
When Talashkova was detained the Russian General Consulate in Toronto was informed by the Canadian authorities the same day, however Russia did not receive an official note from America. How can you comment on it?
The difficulty is that there is a test for what has to be disclosed for a criminal trial in Canada and there is a very different test for what has to be disclosed for an extradition hearing in Canada. So, we have requested from the Department of Justice the notes of the arresting officers, we haven’t received them yet. And certainly, it will be my opinion, that if the Russian Embassy wasn’t notified of her arrest in a timely fashion, it would violate the Vienna Convention. But I have not been able to review what evidence, if any, is available in relation to whether or not there was a notification of the Russian Embassy. I mean I should point out that I’m not an expert in this area, in the Vienna Convention or international law, but if the Canadian authorities did notify the Russia Embassy in a timely fashion, I don’t think that the fact that the Americans did not would have any direct impact on her extradition hearing in Canada.
Talashkova has already spent almost three months in the prison awaiting for the decision on her extradition. Mr. Hudgson, what is the process for considering the extradition?
The way it works is – she was arrested on what is called a provisional arrest warrant and when one is requesting authorities in Canada, in this case the United States issues a provisional arrest warrant, they have 60 days under the Canadian-American extradition treaty to provide what is called the statement of the case with the synopsis of the evidence on which they plan to lead the trial against her. They did provide that at the very end of the 60 days period. Following that there are 30 days in which the Canadian Minister of Justice has to review what is provided by the American authorities and decide whether or not he is going to issue an authorization to proceed with the actual extradition hearing. All those steps have been taken now. I believe in total there were three court appearances following her initial appearance, like her arrest. And at this point now an extradition hearing has been set for May. And I think that is not unusual, I think it normally does take around 90 days before a date is set for an extradition hearing.
Were you present there during the hearing yesterday?
No. there is a colleague of mine, a woman named Cait Sainsbury who appeared to set a date on my behalf.
But you probably still see Marina Talashkova, how is she holding, how is she taking it?
I think it is fair to say that she is obviously upset and confused. I think it is safe to say that she would much rather be in Russia but I think that she is strong and she is holding together as best as she can in these circumstances. I can tell you that her mother visited her from Russia around a month ago and I think that was certainly helpful.
There was some evidence presented yesterday by the American side. What is Talashkova’s position now? Did she admit the wrongdoing?
No, absolutely. She didn’t admit her guilt or plea guilty. As I said, they don’t present the actual evidence, we don’t get that in Canada, what we get is a summary of the evidence and a certification from the prosecuting authority, in this case a district attorney in California, which indicates that the evidence which is contained in the summary would be and will be admissible in a criminal prosecution in the United States. That is not something that we are entitled to get behind or to question under the extradition act in Canada. So, essentially we have to take their word for it and there was no arraignment, there was no plea yesterday. All that happened yesterday was that the date for the actual hearing was set. And as I said that is May the 24th .
The decision on extradition depends on Canadian court now. Mr. Hudgson, do you think the fact that Russian side was not notified by the American authorities will affect it?
I think we are going to ask the judge to look at it at the hearing on the 24th, is there a sufficiency of the evidence, it is not proof, it is just whether or not the Americans have provided some evidence of criminality, a criminal conduct on Marina’s part. And then additionally we will raise the issue like the fact that the US did not unveil itself as the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in criminal matters it has with Russia that was founded in 1999, and instead decided to proceed against Marina by waiting until she was in a neutral territory country so to speak, in Canada, and at that point issued the provisional arrest warrant for her.
Mr. Hudgson, is anything being done to return Talashkova to Russia?
I’m not aware of any such talks. I’m not familiar with whether or not there would be a vehicle or abilities to do that. I can tell you that if a Canadian citizen is arrested and imprisoned in the United States, there is legislation which allows for the transfer of the offender from the United States to Canada to serve out the sentence in Canada. And I believe it works vice versa, I believe the American citizen that arrested and convicted in Canada, and sentenced to imprisonment can also be transferred to the United States. I don’t know whether there is any similar legislation vehicle between the United States and Russia. If there was, it wouldn’t be available to Marina until she was convicted at the criminal trial in the United States.
Right. By is there an agreement between Canada and Russia so she would be sent to Russia from Canada?
No, there is no real vehicle I’m aware of that would allow her to return to Russia pending her extradition hearing.
We were talking about Marina Talashkova who is awaiting decision on her extradition to the United States from Canada. The hearing date is set for May 24. Here with us was her defense lawyer Tyler Hudgson. Thank you very much for joining us today.
For the American edition of the Voice of Russia, I’m Lyudmila Chernova.”
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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