US Extradition Act of 2003: UK Parliament fumes over use against citizens

July 9, 2012

Alaska Dispatch on July 8, 2012 released the following:

By: Michael Goldfarb

“LONDON, UK — The special relationship — Britain and the US, or is that the US and Britain? — is often remarked on here in Britain, particularly when there is a change at the top of government. A new president or prime minister is good for a couple of days of headlines, at least, about America and her most important ally.

It’s been decades since there was a serious challenge to the idea that the natural order of things is that the US and UK are as one on the matters that count. So it is easy to forget that for most of the last two centuries the two countries have frequently been “frenemies.”

But now there is an issue that threatens the perfect calm: extradition — to be specific, the Extradition Act of 2003.

Passed by a Labour-dominated Parliament in the aftermath of 9/11, when the Relationship was at the height of its Specialness, the Extradition Treaty was supposed to make it easier for Britain to send jihadists arrested on British soil to the US, if a request was made.

But the treaty immediately became controversial because it was used as much against British businessmen and computer hackers as suspects in the War on Terror.

The most recent example is the case of Richard O’Dwyer, a graduate student in computer science, who American authorities want extradited to face charges of copyright infringement. O’Dwyer set up a website TVshack.net, a search engine, which listed sites where films and programs could be watched. He is not accused of streaming any himself.

If you go to the site now, a notice comes up saying the domain name has been seized by US Immigration and Customs Service. This is followed by a brief, professionally made (and kind of clever) anti-piracy video.

The US request was granted by Britain’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, last March. The controversy burst out again last week, when Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, launched a campaign in The Guardian newspaper to prevent the extradition by posting an online petition.

Wales notes that had O’Dwyer been arrested for similar crimes in Britain, the maximum sentence would be six months. In the US, he could serve 10 years, if convicted.

The disproportion in sentencing between the two countries is one reason the treaty is increasingly coming under fire. The other is the standard of proof required for an extradition request to be granted. The last extradition treaty — signed in 1870 when Britain was the global superpower — required the US to show it had a prima facie case against the person being extradited. The new one drops that to “reasonable suspicion.”

This is an issue that cuts across party lines. The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, composed of members of all parties, called for the treaty to be renegotiated, although another parliamentary review found that there was no imbalance at all.

Typical of those raising questions is Conservative MP Dominic Raab. A self-described America lover and Atlanticist, he understands why fast-track extradition “might be a jolly good thing” when dealing with terror suspects, but feels “the pendulum has swung too far” in facilitating all manner of extradition requests.

He questions the low legal threshold these requests have to pass. He alludes to the O’Dwyer case, “If criminal conduct is alleged to take place in the UK and the UK courts aren’t interested in prosecuting, why should American courts be allowed to prosecute a British citizen?” Raab adds, “We need sensible safe guards for our citizens.”

Raab points out that regardless of whether a suspect is proven innocent, an extradition “destroys your life. If you take six months to two years to fight charges successfully, the expenses incurred are devastating.”

American legal costs are much higher than those in Britain. Some Brits who have been extradited have struck a plea bargain rather than lose all their money. “But if you cop a plea bargain in return for a lighter sentence it still destroys your life,” says Raab.

There is another aspect of the extradition law that has Brits concerned: the fearsome reputation of American prisons. Their image as sinkholes of gang violence, homosexual rape and other kinds of depravity has spread around the planet via films and television.

This reputation was testified to recently by Gary Mulgrew, one of the NatWest Three — British bankers who were accused of a fraud related to Enron’s collapse and extradited to Texas. The trio pleaded guilty to one count each in order to reduce their prison time.

Now Mulgrew has written an account of his time in Big Spring, Texas penitentiary. “Gang of One” appeared in the ultra-right wing Daily Mail earlier this year, with the headline, “This wasn’t punishment. It was the Big Brother house with wall-to-wall psychos.”

It spared readers none of the horrors of life inside.

It is articles like this — and the sense that somehow Britain is being bullied into sending for trial people the law was not intended to cover — that lead to calls for either the scrapping or renegotiation of the Extradition Treaty.

Enter the case of Gary McKinnon, accused of committing the biggest military hack of all time.

In 2001-2002, McKinnon is alleged to have hacked into US military and NASA computers a total of 97 times.

Why?

He was looking to prove the military and space agencies were hiding evidence of extraterrestrial life and alien technology.

Sound odd?

Well McKinnon suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. His computer expertise and rather strange obsession is offered as proof of his condition.

The size of the hack, however, has US prosecutors fuming. McKinnon could face up to 70 years in prison if tried in the US and convicted on all counts.

The 46-year-old’s case is one of the hotter political potatoes British Prime Minister David Cameron has to handle. On July 5, McKinnon was offered another chance by Home Secretary May to have further medical tests before she makes her decision. Clearly, she wants to delay things for as long as possible, reports the Conservative-supporting Daily Telegraph.

If she chooses to interpret the treaty literally and send McKinnon to the US for trial, the “special relationship” will take a real beating here and the Conservative Party will pay the electoral price.”

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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 the 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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

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Home secretary upholds decision to extradite Richard O’Dwyer

July 9, 2012

The Guardian on July 9, 2012 released the following:

By: James Ball and Alan Travis

“Theresa May says she will not review case that could see Sheffield student facing 10 years in US jail

The home secretary, Theresa May, has told the House of Commons that she will not revisit plans to extradite Sheffield Hallam student Richard O’Dwyer to the US on copyright charges, saying the decision had “already been taken”.

O’Dwyer faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in a US jail for alleged copyright offences, for which the UK declined to press charges. The charges relate to a website, tvshack.net, which O’Dwyer when he was 19 and which linked to places to watch TV and films online.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launched a campaign against his extradition late last month, including a petition which on Monday hit 225,000 signatures, primarily from the UK and the US.

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who has previously raised concerns over several US extradition cases, asked May at home secretary’s questions in the Commons on Monday if she planned to review the case, given that it involved “an offence, if it is one, that our own authorities thought did not merit a prosecution.”

May, who must personally approve extraditions under the US/UK treaty, said the decision had been taken and O’Dwyer must rely on his court appeal.

“As you know that case is due to go to court later this year,” she said. “As regards the extradition decision, that has already been taken and, as you know, I have decided to uphold the extradition.”

Previous campaigns against extradition have called on home secretaries to review their decisions to extradite, most famously in the case of Chile’s General Pinochet, where former prime minister Margaret Thatcher called on the Labour home secretary to revoke his permission for extradition.

Wales is currently seeking a meeting with May and her advisors to discuss the O’Dwyer case. In his call for the meeting, he said: “The home secretary continues to ignore hundreds of thousands of citizens, the UK tech community, business leaders, celebrities and MPs from all parties on this issue.

“She should be very clear that we are not going to go away and new supporters are joining the campaign all the time.””

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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

————————————————————–

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

————————————————————–

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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email:


Theresa May to review UK extradition treaty with US

February 22, 2012

The Guardian on February 22, 2012 released the following:

“Home secretary to lead thorough review of extradition treaty following anger at recent deportations, David Cameron says

Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent

Theresa May, the home secretary, will conduct a “proper, sober, thoughtful review” into Britain’s extradition treaty with the US amid anger at a series of deportations, David Cameron has announced.

The prime minister told MPs the home secretary would take account of the views of parliamentarians after he was asked about the case of Christopher Tappin.

The retired company director from Kent is due to be flown to the US on Friday to face allegations of selling arms to Iran. Tappin, 65, admits shipping batteries that can be used in Hawk air defence missiles but says he thought they were for use in the car industry. He said he had no idea about their eventual destination.

Tappin’s case was raised by his MP, Jo Johnson, at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday. Johnson, the MP for Beckenham and brother of the London mayor, Boris Johnson, said: “US marshals will on Friday escort my 65-year-old constituent Chris Tappin from Heathrow to a jail in Texas, where he will face pressure to plea-bargain in order to avoid lengthy incarceration pending a financially ruinous trial for a crime he insists he did not commit.

“Could the prime minister say what steps he is considering to reform the US/UK extradition treaty that been so unfair to the likes of Gary McKinnon and now my constituent, Mr Tappin?”

The prime minister indicated the government would not block the extradition of Tappin. He said: “I quite understand why [he] raises this case of his constituent. In the case of Chris Tappin obviously he has been through a number of processes including the magistrates court and the high court. The home secretary has thoroughly considered his case.”

Cameron cited an independent report last year by Lord Justice Scott Baker, which said that the 2003 Extradition Act was not “lopsided” or biased against British citizens. Critics have said that the act, drawn up in haste after the 9/11 attacks, is unfair because British citizens do not enjoy the same level of legal protection as US citizens.

Gary McKinnon, the alleged computer hacker who has Asperger’s syndrome, faces extradition under the treaty.

The prime minister said: “[Jo Johnson] raises the point more generally of Sir Scott Baker’s report into the extradition arrangements, which he has made and we are now considering. He did not call for fundamental reform.”

But Cameron said May would lead a thorough review of the extradition treaty. “The home secretary is going to carefully examine his findings and also take into account the views of parliament that have been expressed in recent debates.

“Of course balancing these arrangements is absolutely vital. But I think it is important that at the same time we remember why we enter into these extradition treaties, which is to show respect to each other’s judicial processes and make sure that people who are accused of crimes can be tried for those crimes and Britain can benefit from that as well. So a proper, sober thoughtful review needs to take place and this case shows why.””

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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

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) here.

————————————————————–

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.


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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