Britons Believe UK Extradition Laws Fail to Protect Citizens

October 20, 2011

The long-awaited independent review of Britain’s extradition arrangements was greeted with anger and frustration. Janis Sharp, mother of Gary McKinnon who suffers from Asperger’s and is wanted in the US on hacking charges, damned the report a ‘whitewash’.

Human rights groups like Liberty professed themselves baffled, while politicians across the political divide urged the government to ignore the findings.

The report, by senior judge Sir Scott Baker, took 486 pages to conclude that, far from failing to protect British citizens from

The last Labour government signed up to EU and US agreements that stripped Britain of virtually all discretion, so the current system lacks common sense. Under the UK/US treaty, Gary McKinnon is wanted for hacking from home into top-secret US security computers in search of evidence of UFOs.

More misfit than terrorist, if McKinnon is prosecuted at all, it should be in this country. He faces decades in jail if convicted in the US.

The Baker report dismissed calls for a change in the law to allow such cross-border cases to be prosecuted in Britain, claiming ‘we have no evidence that any injustice is being caused’.

The Baker findings fly in the face of a recent report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights – a cross-party committee, of which I am a member – that called for radical reform of UK extradition rules.

Unlike the Baker review, we listened to the victims and their families tell their ordeals. Like Frank Symeou, who gave evidence about the nightmare endured by his son.

Andrew, a British student, was carted off to Greece under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for involvement in a fight at a night club that left another man dead, despite eye witness accounts that Andrew was not in the club at the time

Fast-track EAW extradition is based on the assumption that standards of justice are adequate across Europe. The Symeou case shows this is a cruel sham. Greek police beat identical statements out of witnesses that were then retracted.

Andrew Symeou spent almost a year in squalid prison conditions before being bailed. Left with a flea-ridden blanket in a cell exposed to a sewer and crawling with cockroaches, he was abused by guards and watched helplessly as another prisoner was beaten to death for drug money.

The trial proceeded at a snail’s pace, with court translators who speak little English. Eventually cleared in June of this year, after a two year ordeal, the 22 year old student is left to re-build his shattered life.

The Baker report makes no recommendations for preventing such horror stories being inflicted on other innocent people.

Nor does it address another major concern. Foreign investigators fire off EAWs without investigating the facts, let alone preparing for trial. Michael Turner set up a property business in Hungary in 2005.

When it failed, he paid off his staff, filed for bankruptcy and returned to Britain. Three years later, he was extradited back to a Hungarian jail, accused of defrauding on administration fees and detained in a prison formerly run by the KGB.

He has been allowed to return home, but remains under investigation. The Hungarian authorities assured the UK court they were ready to prosecute.

Yet, six years after the alleged offence, Mr Turner has not even been charged with any crime. The extradition that threw his life into turmoil was little more than a ‘hit and hope’ fishing expedition.

Again, the Baker report remains blind to the injustice, denying that EAWs are being used ‘in cases where there is insufficient evidence’.

The EAW licenses the most Kafkaesque practices. Deborak Dark, a grandmother of two, was acquitted of drug offences in France over twenty years ago. Without telling her, French prosecutors appealed, and a two year jail sentence was imposed in her absence.

Seventeen years later, on holiday in Turkey, she was stunned to be arrested at gunpoint.

After a three year legal ordeal, French investigators dropped the case. Traumatised, Mrs Dark told our committee: ‘I had been walking around for over 20 years as a wanted person and I did not know.’

These are not isolated cases. Britain now receives 29% of all EAWs. The UK number doubled since 2007 – to four times more than France, and fifteen times more than Poland.

The number of British citizens surrendered under an EAW rose from two per month, in 2004, to two per day. The EAW works both ways. But, for every warrant the UK issues abroad, it receives twenty back.

Fewer people are extradited under the UK-US treaty, but it is still lop-sided: 1 American was transferred to the UK, and 24 Britons to the US, since 2004. These are hardly balanced international deals, given the high price being paid by the innocent.

The JCHR also highlighted weak human rights protections under EAW extradition compared to deportation, where Article 8 (the right to family life) regularly allows foreign criminals to avoid being returned.

Recently, a convicted drug-dealer who drove into – and killed – a father of two whilst high on heroin, claimed the right to family life to block deportation.

Successful challenges to deportation orders by convicted offenders, under Article 8, are running at a rate of 400 per year. Too often, foreign criminals can successfully claim the protection of ‘rights’ denied to British innocent citizens subject to extradition.

The JCHR calls for an overhaul to address these systematic failings. First, it recommends implementing a ‘forum’ clause, allowing UK courts to refuse extradition where an individual should be tried in this country – as in the McKinnon case.

Second, it proposes stronger preliminary evidence that a crime has been committed, before extradition is authorized.

Dealing specifically with the EAW, it calls for longer periods to allow UK courts to clear up cases of mistaken identity, safeguards to ensure warrants are not issued for minor offences, and checks to prevent extradition for investigation rather than prosecution.

The failings in the current system are largely the result of increasingly authoritarian EU law, subverting basic principles of British justice. Needless to say, the Human Rights Act has done precious little to prevent these miscarriages of justice.

Instead of exposing the fraud involved in EU law that demands blind faith in the adequacy of the justice systems in Greece, Romania and various other countries, the Baker review calls for yet more EU regulation.

That is the last thing the British justice system needs. In opposition, both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats pledged to fix our broken extradition system. Reform ought to be an area of common ground, the glue around which both sides can unite.

Extradition is a vital part of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and organized crime. But, not at any price.

The government should grasp the nettle, adopt the JCHR recommendations and take this opportunity to stand up for basic rights of innocent British Citizens.

This article was written by Dominic Raab and published by Mail Online on October 19, 2011.

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and United Kingdom here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Tesler No Longer Fighting Extradition; Faces Federal Criminal Charges in U.S.

February 22, 2011

A British solicitor is abandoning his battle against extradition and flying to the United States to face corruption charges, his legal advisers have announced.

Jeffrey Tesler, 62, is accused of involvement in a conspiracy to bribe senior officials in Nigeria. His solicitors say he will leave the U.K. within 28 days, but that is just an estimation. Tesler may take longer before heading to the U.S.

Tesler, who has dual British-Israeli nationality, fought a long legal campaign to avoid extradition.

Last month the High Court in London ruled he could be extradited. They said there was a sufficient American connection to justify his removal for trial.

His lawyers argued extradition should be blocked because the case also had “strong links” to the U.K., and British prosecutors were carrying out their own investigation.

Tesler, who has lived in Tottenham, north London, for more than 50 years, was due to make a last-ditch application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. But last Wednesday, Tesler withdrew his appeal.

Tesler and another U.K. citizen were indicted on Feb. 17 last year by a federal grand jury in Houston, accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It seems unreasonable for the U.S. government to hold a U.K. citizen criminally liable for violations of a U.S. law, but as long as the U.S. government can prove sufficient ties to the U.S. arising from the alleged criminal conduct, Tesler’s charges will stand.

The case is part of an investigation into Houston-based KBR over claims it bribed officials to win contracts to build a liquefied-natural gas project in Nigeria. In February 2009, KBR agreed with former parent company Halliburton to pay $579 million to resolve U.S. criminal and regulatory charges related to the Nigeria project.

Tesler has been accused of being hired as the agent of a four-company joint venture, to bribe Nigerian officials out of a U.S. $132 million slush fund. The alleged bribes went towards securing U.S. $6 billion worth of contracts on behalf of the Nigerian government, to build and expand the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas terminal.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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British Court Grants U.S. Extradition Request for Alleged Terror Suspect

January 24, 2011

A judge on Friday approved the extradition to the United States of Abid Naseer, a suspected Al-Qaeda operative accused of planning attacks in Britain, the U.S. and Norway.

The 24-year-old Pakistani is wanted by U.S. authorities over allegations that he provided material support to Osama bin Laden’s Islamist network and conspired to use explosives.

Naseer was allegedly part of an Al-Qaeda cell in Britain whose members planned to attack Manchester.

The judged approved the U.S. application, but said the case will now go to the home secretary for final approval.

According to the extradition application, Naseer allegedly used codewords about weddings, marriage, girlfriends’ computers and the weather to refer to attacks, bomb ingredients, travel documents and target sites.

Naseer challenged the extradition on grounds that he would be at risk of torture and death if he was acquitted in the U.S. and returned to Pakistan. The judge did not agree with Naseer’s argument and granted the extradition.

Naseer was one of 12 men, mostly students, arrested in counter-terrorism raids in northwest England in 2009 over a suspected bomb plot.

All the men were released as there was insufficient evidence to charge them and they were ordered to be deported. But in May Naseer won the right to stay in Britain when a judge ruled his safety could not be guaranteed if he returned to Pakistan.

Naseer has plans to appeal the decision, therefore extradition to the U.S. may not be immediate.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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British Attorney Loses Appeal; Extradition to U.S. Underway

January 20, 2011

An attorney from north London will be extradited to the United States to face corruption charges following a ruling today by the High Court in London.

A London court previously granted the U.S. extradition request, but Tesler appealed the decision.

Jeffrey Tesler, 62, is accused by the American authorities of involvement in an international conspiracy to channel bribes to senior officials in Nigeria.

It is alleged that bribes were paid from a $132 million dollar slush fund to influence the awarding of a $6 billion dollar construction contract for a natural gas plant on Bonny Island in Nigeria.

Tesler, who has lived in north London for over 50 years, is accused of acting as the middleman in the conspiracy, said to have occurred between 1994 and 2004.

He was arrested at the request of the U.S. government after a grand jury indictment was filed at a U.S. district court in Houston, Texas, in February 2009.

The charges fall under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which aims to prevent the bribery of foreign officials regarding international business transactions. However, there must be sufficient evidence that proves a link to the United States in order to hold Tesler accountable under the FCPA.

Britain is set to introduce their version of the FCPA this April, known as the Bribery Act. Critics and businesses believe the Bribery Act will impose significant regulations on business practices in the U.K., more so than the FCPA. It will be interesting to follow the enforcement of the Act once it takes effect in April and to what effect it will have on business dealings with the U.S.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Wikileaks Files: U.S. Rejected Britain’s Extradition Offer Regarding McKinnon

December 1, 2010

The extradition offer of former Prime Minister of Britain, Gordon Brown, was detailed in one of the recent Wikileaks U.S. diplomatic cables.

Gary McKinnon faces extradition to the U.S. for computer hacking in 2001 and 2002.

A High Court decision on whether McKinnon’s extradition could go ahead was adjourned in May and ministers have announced a review of existing rules.

Brown made his unsuccessful direct intervention in August 2009, according to a secret cable from the U.S. ambassador in the U.K., Louis Susman, to the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Brown proposed the offer that in exchange for McKinnon pleading guilty and making a statement of contrition, he would serve any sentence of incarceration in the U.K. The public, and U.K. officials, have been deeply concerned with McKinnon’s medical condition and fear he would commit suicide or suffer injury if left to the U.S. prison system.

McKinnon, who has Asperger’s syndrome, faces up to 60 years in jail if he is convicted in the U.S.

Critics of the treaty, agreed between Washington and London in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks of 2001, say it is easier to extradite people from the U.K. than the U.S.

The question being reviewed is whether the 2003 extradition treaty is unbalanced and what discretion the British home secretary should have to intervene in individual cases.

McKinnon is accused of hacking into U.S. military computer systems in 2001 and 2002, altering and deleting files in the process. He does not deny hacking into systems but insists he was seeking evidence of UFOs.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Britain May Highten U.S. Extradition Requirements

September 9, 2010

Britain is likely to overhaul its extradition laws amid concerns the United States is able to fly suspects out of the U.K. with little proof they have committed a crime, a senior government minister said Wednesday.

A review of current laws would propose changes and consider whether the present rules are “unbalanced” in favor of the U.S. and against British citizens, Home Secretary Theresa May said in a statement to Parliament.

It follows worries over high profile extradition cases including hacker Gary McKinnon, who is wanted in the U.S. for allegedly breaking into American military computers, and retiree Christopher Tappin, accused of plotting to sell missile components to Iran.

Lawyers complain that under “fast track” extradition procedures introduced after the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. is not required to offer substantial proof of an allegation when seeking to extradite a suspect from Britain.

David Blunkett, a former Home Secretary who agreed to the arrangements, acknowledged last week that he may have gone too far in loosening the rules. Blunkett told BBC radio he may have “given too much away” to the U.S.

May told legislators she will appoint a small panel of experts to scrutinize the operation of European arrest warrants and the scope judges have to refuse requests from other countries. The panel will consider “whether the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty is unbalanced,” she said, and is likely to report by September 2011.

The review could recommend new rules to block extradition requests in cases where an alleged crime has been committed largely in Britain but has attracted charges from another country.

The U.S. Embassy in London declined to comment on May’s announcement.

Lawyers for Tappin, a 63-year-old golf club official, argue his case should be brought before the British courts. He is alleged by Washington to have arranged to sell specialized batteries for Hawk missiles to Tehran, but to have conducted the purported deals from southern England.

May has already suspended the extradition of McKinnon, a 43-year-old who has Asperger’s syndrome, until the review is completed. McKinnon allegedly broke into 97 computers belonging to NASA, the U.S. Defense Department and several branches of the military soon after the 2001 attacks.

Figures released by the Home Office show 62 people, including 28 British citizens and dual nationals, were extradited from Britain to the U.S. between January 2004 and June 2010. During the same period, 33 people, including three people who are U.S citizens or dual nationals, were transported to Britain from the U.S.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Former CEO of Morgan Crucible Convicted for Price-Fixing Scheme

July 28, 2010

Morgan Crucible Co.’s former chief executive officer, Ian Norris, was found guilty in the U.S. of conspiring to obstruct justice in connection with a scheme to fix prices for carbon and graphite products.

A federal jury in Philadelphia yesterday acquitted Norris, 67, of trying to influence others’ grand jury testimony and of intent to induce the destruction of records. Jurors previously had declared at an impasse during about 18 hours of deliberations.

Norris was extradited from the U.K. this year, the first foreign defendant sent to the U.S. to face charges arising from a criminal antitrust investigation, Justice Department officials said in March. He was accused of ordering subordinates to destroy files describing secret talks among European makers of carbon and graphite products about fixing prices in a cartel lasting more than a decade.

Norris was part of a “long-term scheme” to stifle an investigation of the cartel, federal prosecutor Lucy McClain told jurors during the trial that began July 12. Defense lawyer Christopher Curran claimed that Norris didn’t thwart the probe and never illegally ordered document-shredding.

Morgan Crucible, founded in 1856 and based in Windsor, England, makes body armor, carbon items, ceramics, bearings and other products for the medical, automotive, aerospace and telecommunications industries. The company reported sales last year of $1.47 billion (942.6 million pounds).

Norris retired from Morgan Crucible in 2002 after battling prostate cancer and was indicted the following year. The cartel, which began in Europe, allegedly spread to the U.S. in 1989 and continued until 2000, according to a U.S. indictment.

U.K. authorities refused to allow Norris to be extradited on price-fixing charges because such activities weren’t a crime in Britain at the time. U.S. prosecutors then pressed conspiracy and obstruction counts and a London-based court backed the extradition in February.

The cartel, which included companies such as Germany’s SGL Carbon AG, France’s Carbone Lorraine SA and Austria’s Hoffmann & Co., at one time controlled about 93 percent of the European market for carbon products used in manufacturing and steelmaking. The companies paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and lawsuit settlements to resolve claims by government regulators and customers.

The former top executives of both SGL and UCAR International Inc. pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges tied to price fixing. Robert Koehler, SGL’s chairman, was fined $10 million while UCAR Chairman Robert Krass was sentenced to a 17-month prison term.

Morgan Crucible fell 2.3 percent in London trading. The shares have more than doubled in the past year.

Norris will be sentenced on November 2 of this year. The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the Justice Department.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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