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:


Richard O’Dwyer: I Saw What They Did To Christopher Tappin, And I’m Scared

March 26, 2012

Huffington Post (UK) on March 26, 2012 released the following:

By: Dina Rickman

“A 23-year-old Briton facing extradition to America on copyright charges has spoken out about his fears in a rare interview, saying he could spend months waiting for trial in a high-security jail.

Student Richard O’Dwyer, who is appealing against being sent to the US, told The Huffington Post UK he was scared he would end up in a maximum-security institution with no bail, and said he didn’t deserve to be imprisoned.

“Yes, I am scared, I have seen in the media what they did to Chris Tappin [the 65-year-old British busisnessman recently extradited to the US] and how he has been put straight into jail with no bail,” Richard said.

Tappin is currently in prison in New Mexico, America, waiting for trial over allegations he plotted to sell arms to Iran.

“I have no criminal record and don’t think I deserve to be imprisoned for what should be a civil matter if anything. In the UK if I was charged with any offence I would not be put in jail for such a matter,” O’Dwyer said, via email.

“I am trying to stay positive and most importantly I want to complete my university degree.”

Richard’s mother Julia, who is appealing after Home Secretary Theresa May signed his extradition order this month, said she was in a “state of panic” when she heard her son could be put on trial in the states.

The mother-of-two has become an “accidental campaigner” against the controversial UK-US extradition treaty since Richard faced extradition to America over claims his website TVShack.net linked to pirated material.

“You’re not fighting any crime here, you’re fighting the law, the extradition law. You don’t get a chance to fight the allegation,” she told The Huffington Post UK.

However Julia – who still does her son’s washing when he returns from university in Sheffield to report for bail – is not angry at Richard: “I’m angry at the government.

“The police are just doing their job, they were just told to do that when it all came from America. I’m not at all angry at Richard, I’m even less angry than I might have been [if he had not been facing extradition] because I am more angry at the government.

“Maybe we’re closer together, a little bit. He doesn’t want to bother about it, you see, much. It’s just a major inconvenience to him,” she said.

“I see him every week. I usually bring his laundry back, I usually do it on the day he goes to bail so I can give him a lift for that. Sometimes he comes home for the weekend anyway. He has to report to a police station every week, whenever I see him I will take away his laundry and next time I’ll see him I will take a bit back. That’s what you do when your kids are at uni, you know.”

O’Dwyer has received support from the families of two other British men facing extradition, Tappin and computer hacker Gary McKinnon.

Julia is now calling for action on the “flawed” legislation, rather than more reform.

“Our government has failed to make a difference to a law that was pushed through the backdoor with no parliamentary scrutiny. Now we’re living with the consequences.

The government has sold him down the river. They’re doing it to other people. This law was put in place by the Labour government in the Queen’s prerogative with no parliamentary scrutiny. This government has promised to look at it and amend it before they came into power and they have done nothing about it except talk about it.””

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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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.