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.


Blow for Gary McKinnon as U.S. Extradition deal deemed ‘fair’

October 14, 2011

DailyMail.co.uk on October 14, 2011 released the following:

“By JAMES SLACK

The controversial Extradition Act under which Gary McKinnon faces being sent for trial in the U.S. is not biased against British citizens, a review has concluded.

The verdict of the independent panel, to be made public as early as Tuesday, is certain to provoke claims of a whitewash.

The review, led by Lord Justice Scott Baker, was prompted by alarm over the case of Asperger’s sufferer Mr McKinnon, who is facing extradition on charges of computer hacking.

But it has found that the 2003 Extradition Act is neither lopsided nor unfair.

The panel will also rule against the introduction of a so-called ‘forum bar’, which has long been demanded by Mr McKinnon’s supporters.

The rule, which can be passed with a vote in Parliament, would mean a suspect would normally be tried in the country where the bulk of his or her crimes were committed.

In Mr McKinnon’s case, he searched NASA computers for evidence of ‘little green men’ from his North London home.

Campaigners hoped that, at the very least, Lord Scott Baker would agree to the introduction of ‘forum’, which is already sitting on the statute books waiting to be enacted.

But the panel will rule that this is not necessary and that the current system is fair. The findings will be a political headache for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who promised in opposition to change the Act and save Mr McKinnon from extradition.

Writing in the Daily Mail in 2009, Mr Clegg called the Anglo-American treaty ‘lopsided’ and said it ‘gives more rights to Americans than British passport-holders’. He added: ‘I forced a debate on it . . . and warned the Government that the treaty would lead to an abuse of people’s rights in this country. But they wouldn’t listen.’

Critics of the Act say it is lopsided because British citizens are not given the same legal protection as their American counterparts.

If the U.S. government wants to extradite a UK citizen it needs only to outline the alleged offence, the punishment and provide an accurate description of the suspect.

But to extradite an American, Britain must prove that the wanted individual has probably committed a crime, a much harder test.

The U.S. has vehemently argued that there is nothing unbalanced about the treaty, and during the panel’s inquiry Lord Scott Baker met senior figures in the U.S. legal system.

The panel has now ruled in favour of the U.S. argument.

It will point out that the U.S. has never refused a request from Britain to extradite a suspect. Britain has refused to extradite in a handful of cases.

The extradition of Mr McKinnon, the subject of the Mail’s ‘An Affront to Justice’ campaign, was temporarily halted by Home Secretary Theresa May last year.

She wants to examine advice on whether the 45-year-old is fit to be sent abroad.”

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.


Fresh Calls to Prime Minister over Extradition Case of Gary McKinnon

July 13, 2011

David Burrowes restated his concern for Palmers Green resident Gary McKinnon during today’s Prime Ministers Questions.

The MP for Enfield Southgate asked Prime Minister David Cameron: “While I recognise that the Home Secretary has a legal process to follow, does the Prime Minister share the concern for my constituent’s nine-year nightmare?

“He feels that his life is literally hanging by a thread that is waiting to be cut by extradition.”

Mr McKinnon is facing extradition to the US accused of hacking into sensitive government databases.

His case is currently resting with Home Secretary Theresa May, who is seeking further medical evidence before deciding whether to approve the extradition.

Mr Cameron, in his reply, said he had raised Mr McKinnon’s plight with US President Barack Obama during his recent state visit.

He added: “I think the point is that it is not so much about the alleged offence, which everyone knows is a very serious offence, and we can understand why the Americans feel so strongly about it.

“The case is now in front of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, who has to consider reports about Gary McKinnon’s health and well-being.

“It is right that she does that in a proper and effectively – I am sorry to use the word again today – quasi-judicial way.”

This article was written by Tristan Kirk and published by the Enfield Independent on July 13, 2011.

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

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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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British Computer Hacker May Avoid US Extradition

July 21, 2010

The computer hacker Gary McKinnon could avoid extradition to the US by serving time in a British prison, David Cameron has suggested after raising the issue in talks with Barack Obama.

Following his meeting at the White House, the prime minister told BBC Radio 5 Live that the government has discussed with the US ambassador the possibility of a prison sentence, but that the sentence be carried out in British prison.

Officials are nearing a deal to avoid McKinnon’s extradition to the US, where he faces up to 60 years in prison. Obama said a solution should be found within the law but in the context of the “co-operative relationship” between the US and the UK. Cameron and Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, have publicly criticized plans to extradite McKinnon.

McKinnon claims he only hacked into US systems in 2001-2002 to search for evidence of UFOs. Campaigners for McKinnon, who has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, said they were “overjoyed” and hoped Cameron’s comments signaled a resolution to their eight-year campaign.

Last year Alan Johnson, the former home secretary and Theresa May’s predecessor, ruled that McKinnon could face extradition and trial in the US, but his lawyers were granted permission for a judicial review into whether the decision breached his human rights.

The case took another turn when May stepped in to adjourn the review days before it was due to start, to consider whether McKinnon is fit to stand trial in the US. The home secretary is still considering the issue.

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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McKinnon to Stay In Britain; Extradition Case Adjourned by High Court

May 21, 2010

Britain’s Home Office has stated that an individual wanted in the United States for allegedly hacking into U.S. military computers would be permitted to stay in Britain for the time being as the new Home Secretary has permitted more time to consider the case. The accused’s, Gary McKinnon, extradition case was adjourned by the High Court. Mr. McKinnon is accused of hacking into American military computers shortly after 9/11. McKinnon’s lawyers have argued that due to Mr. McKinnon’s suffering from a type of autism, that his extradition would violate his human rights.

The United States-United Kingdom Extradition Treaty of 2003 requires certain criteria to be established in order for an offense to be extraditable. First, the offense must be punishable under the laws of both States by imprisonment for a period of one year or more or by some more severe penalty.

Second, extraditable offenses may consist of attempts or conspiracies to commit, participate in the commission of, aid or abet, counsel or procure commission of any offense which is otherwise extraditable.

Third, an offense shall be an extraditable offense regardless of whether the laws in the Requesting or Requested States place the
offense within the same category of offenses or describe the offense by similar terminology. Also an offense can be extraditable regardless of whether the offense is one for which United States federal law requires the showing of such matters as interstate transportation, or use of the mails or of other facilities affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

Fourth, if the alleged offense was committed outside the territory of the Requesting State, extradition shall nevertheless be granted in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty if the laws in the Requested State provide for the punishment of such conduct committed outside its territory in similar circumstances. If the laws in the Requested State do not provide for the punishment of such conduct committed outside of its territory in similar circumstances, the Requested State may use its discretion to grant extradition provided that all other criteria of the Treaty are met.

Finally, if extradition has been granted for an extraditable offense, it may also be granted for any other offense specified in the request if the latter offense is punishable by less than one year’s deprivation of liberty, provided that all other criteria for extradition are met.

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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