Below is the latest news from the friendsEXTRADITED twitter and also public tweets on extradition.
Response to draft forum amendments
Friends Extradited response to draft forum amendments:
We are extremely disappointed by the draft forum amendments. As well as being unduly complicated, they demonstrate scant regard for the basic rights of defendants. They are effectively a carte blanche for prosecutors to continue to make the kinds of ‘behind closed doors’ decisions that have been the root cause of so many of the problems over the past 9 years. This draft fails on all key criteria - justice must not only be done but be seen to be done, by the British courts, in a transparent manner. The more draconian an impact on a defendant, the greater the need for effective safeguards against injustice. As currently drafted, not one of the recent high-profile US extradition cases would have been prevented by these amendments. The Government needs to think again. The forum clause needs to be simple, and with a clear presumption in favour of UK proceedings where a case could be heard in this country.
FAIR TRIALS EXPRESSES DELIGHT AT HOME SECRETARY’S ANNOUNCEMENT ON EXTRADITION ARRANGEMENTS
The Home Secretary has today announced important changes to the way extradition decisions are taken in the UK. A new power for courts hearing extradition cases will be introduced, giving them the power to say “no” where the UK is a more appropriate forum for the case to be heard and it is in the interests of justice, therefore, not to extradite the person for trial overseas. The Government has also recognised the need to reform our extradition arrangements with the rest of Europe, responsible for the vast majority of extraditions from the UK.
Fair Trials International’s Chief Executive, Jago Russell, said:
The Government’s statement today goes much further than the case of Gary McKinnon, promising long-awaited reforms to put justice and fairness back into our extradition laws. We welcome the fact that our courts will be given the power to refuse extradition when the country seeking it is clearly the wrong place to hear the case. We are also delighted that the Government has recognised the need to work with the rest of Europe to improve the European Arrest Warrant, responsible for the vast majority of extraditions from the UK and most of the cases of injustice.
Fair Trials International has long called for reforms to our extradition arrangements, including allowing courts to refuse extradition in cases where there is a genuine issue over where the trial should take place and where it is more appropriate to bring a prosecution in the UK. We have also identified key changes that can and should be made to our Extradition Act, including reforms to how our courts deal with European Arrest Warrant cases. These changes can be enacted now and do not need to wait until 2014, when the UK has the right to opt out of this and other EU justice measures.
For more information please contact Fair Trials International on +44 (0)20 7822 2370 or +44 (0)7950 849 851
Gary McKinnon Annoucement
Melanie Riley of Friends Extradited says:
We are relieved and delighted for Gary and his family and his lawyers. A brave and correct decision has finally been made by the Home Secretary.
In addition, at last, the principle for which we campaigners have fought so hard looks like it will become enshrined in British law. However the devil will be in the detail – ie the wording of the forum bar to extradition. We will not rest until we achieve a presumption in favour of British trials for British citizens, for conduct committed on British soil.
Our thoughts today are with all those friends unnecessarily extradited before the wrongs of the Extradition Act 2003 are put right. It is each of their efforts in highlighting the obvious flaws in the legislation that have led to today’s announcement. Many of them are being held in the US right now: out of sight but, to us, definitely not out of mind.
FRIENDS EXTRADITED CALLS FOR THE HOME SECRETARY TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION ON EXTRADITION
10 years after Gary McKinnon’s ordeal began, next week Theresa May must finally release him from his US extradition nightmare.
To restore public confidence in Britain’s discriminate extradition regime, the Home Secretary should take immediate steps to introduce legislation to Parliament to incorporate proper consideration by British courts of the correct jurisdiction for trial – the so called “forum test”. A forum test would have prevented years of anguish for Gary and his family, whilst also preventing years of legal wrangling and trial delays affecting countless other British citizens, whose conduct took place in the UK, who nonetheless have been extradited, or continue to fight extradition, to the US.
Ours is an obviously flawed extradition law – yet the solution is simple.
Here’s one reason, for every year of Gary’s turmoil, for the introduction of the forum test:
- Because the starting principle should be that British citizens, accused of crimes committed while they were physically on British soil, have a right to defend themselves in Britain
- Because Parliament agreed to the inclusion of a forum test in 2006 - but successive governments have so far failed to enact it
- Because every senior member of the current Cabinet who was in Parliament in 2006 voted in favour of it
- Because in June last year the Joint Committee on Human Rights called for it
- Because in November last year approx. 150,000 people signed an e-petition supporting it
- Because in December last year a unanimously-carried Commons Motion called for it
- Because in March this year the Home Affairs Select Committee called for it
- Because 83% of MPs privately polled by Liberty supported it
- Because the European Convention on Extradition, to which the UK is a signatory, specifically contemplates it
- Because almost every other country in the world already operates a forum test in their extradition arrangements
Mrs May – time to act?
Melanie Riley of campaign group Friends-Extradited said:
The strength of feeling on this issue is overwhelming. Britain was sold a pup in 2003 – it’s time for this Government to right the wrongs. Gary’s 10 years spent living on a knife-edge has been nothing short of cruel and unnecessary punishment. The impact of extradition on the defendant, their friends and families is so severe that extradition should be the last, not first, resort in Britain’s efforts to fight crime. After years of campaigning, it seems a shift in mindset over this simple principle is required by the Home Office and the CPS. Extradition should not be determined on the mercy of the sitting Home Secretary or through horse-trading between US & UK prosecutors behind closed doors - this leads to delayed, arbitrary and, above all, populist not principled decision-making. Instead, there should be a swift and transparent examination of all matters affecting jurisdiction, determined by a judge in a British court, before any extradition of any British citizen is granted. Let’s hope next week heralds new and enlightened thinking from the Home Office.
An example of a strange judicial decision in US over extradition…
Read this example of a strange judicial decision in US over extradition…
Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan Extradited
Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan were extradited to the US on Friday 5 October 2012.
Businessman Karl Watkin has launched a private prosecution of Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan
Show the DPP that there is public interest in the principle of British justice for British citizens for conduct in Britain. Write a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org to register your support for Mr Watkin’s initiative.
For details, read here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19503504
And to see what others think about the importance of this principle, read here:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/11/babar-ahmad-outsource-criminal-justice
"Extradite Me, I'm British" a Cultural Event on US-UK Extradition laws - Saturday 8th Sept
"Extradite Me, I'm British" a Cultural Event on US-UK Extradition laws on Saturday 8th September in London (tickets can be purchased for £5 in advance). Includes screening of Extradition film plus comedian and actor Jeff Mirza will be reading Talha's comic love sonnet to Theresa May; other speakers will include awarding winning novelist A.L Kennedy; David Bermingham (one of the “Natwest Three”), former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, journalist Victoria Brittain and comedian Ahir Shah, fresh from the Edinburgh Festival.
All welcome to attend.
The programme of film, prison poetry, talks, drama, comedy and nasheeds explores questions at the at the heart of British identity: what it means to be a British citizen, the erosion of civil liberties, human rights in a post-9/11 era, British Sovereignty and its big brother relations with America.
"Extradite Me, I'm British" will be held on 8th September, 7pm - 11pm at Rich Mix, London, 35 - 47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA. Tickets (£5) are available at http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/extradite-me-im-british/
EXTRADITION: DOCU-FILM RELEASE, PARLIAMENTARY MEETING & DOWNING STREET PROTEST
Marking the debut release of a powerful docu-film “Extradition” (see below) which charts the fight against the extradition to the US of British men Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, internationally-renowned US linguistic Professor and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, has issued a statement of support:
With the sharp deterioration of protection of elementary civil rights in the US, no one should be extradited to the country on charges related to alleged terrorism. The constitutional lawyer in the White House, after all, has just made it clear that the due process provisions of the US Constitution (and Magna Carta) can be satisfied by an internal discussion in the executive branch. And that is hardly the only example. Furthermore, the prisons and the incarceration system in general are an international scandal. The shallow and evasive charges in this case strongly reinforce that conclusion. I wish you the best success in your campaign to block extradition for Talha Ahsan.http://freetalha.org/2012/06/statement-of-support-noam-chomsky/
“EXTRADITION” directed by Turab Shah.
The London premier of this short docu-film takes place at 7pm on Friday 22 June at Hend House, 233 Shaftsbury Avenue, London WC2H 8EE. All are welcome to attend.
The film features interviews with Gareth Peirce, Talha’s Brother Hamja Ahsan, playwright Avaes Mohammad, the fathers of both Babar and Talha and is framed by Talha’s prison poetry. All contributors to the film are anticipating attending the London screening.
Further details: http://freetalha.org/2012/06/uk-tour-of-powerful-documentary-extradition/ #extradition
House of Commons Meeting - Wednesday 20th June 2012 (6-8pm).
John Hemming MP invites you to join the families and friends of Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan, Gary McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer in calling for a halt to their extradition to the United States. Speakers include: John Hemming MP, Ashfaq Ahmad, Caroline Lucas MP, Sadiq Khan MP, Gareth Peirce, David Bermingham, Victoria Brittain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie
Committee Room 10, House of Commons
On Wednesday 20th June 2012, 6pm – 8 pm
Further Details: http://wearebabarahmad.org/. #freebabar #freetalha #RichardO #freegary
Downing Street Protest – Saturday 23 June 2012 (1-3pm).
All welcome to attend the National Day of Protest Against Extradition of Talha Ahsan, Babar Ahmad, Gary Mckinnon and Richard O Dwyer in London outside Downing Street between 1pm - 3pm.
23 May 2012 at 6.30pm - Meeting to highlight extradition injustice: ALL WELCOME
Please come and support the struggle against extradition of the families of Talha Ahsan, Gary McKinnon, Richard O'Dwyer and Babar Ahmad.
Venue: Hend House, 233 Shaftesbury Avenue London
(nearest tube Tottenham Court Road).
Bruce Kent, Political Activist,
Gareth Peirce, Lawyer
Salma Yacoob, Respect Party
Victoria Brittain, Former Associate Editor, Guardian
Sheffield Hallam University student wins prize for extradition poster at prestigious girl geek event
Sarah Murfet a first year Sheffield Hallam University Student has won the award for the People's Choice at the Lovelace Colloqium (Girl Geeks). Above is Sarah's winning entry which provides summary of Richard's, Chris Tappin & Gary Mckinnons extradition battles.
A fantastic honour for Sarah to win at this event which was attended by reps from Google, Thoughtworks & Bloomberg and many thanks to Sarah both for creating this poster on such an important subject and also for letting us use her poster in our campaigns against this extradition injustice. Sarah's blog
10 April 2012 – ECHR ruled Babar Ahmad’s extradition to a SuperMax prison would not be ‘inhumane’
The European Court handed down its ruling. In response, Babar’s lawyer said:
The European Court has decided, in large part on the basis of disputed statistics provided by the UK Government to which the Applicants were not permitted to respond, that isolation in a US Supermax prison is “relative” and will become a violation of Article 3 ECHR which prohibits torture, only if it extends indefinitely.
It will come as a considerable surprise to the inmates of ADX Florence, the prison in question, and their lawyers who struggle fruitlessly to challenge in the US courts their continuing solitary confinement for 8, 10, or 16 years, that the prisoners’ grim isolation could be considered only “relative” and its continuance as justiciable. It will be equally surprising to international lawyers, who may include the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, that the view of the European Court as to what constitutes isolation is apparently in conflict with their own.
The Court’s judgment however does not address at all the burning issue in these cases, and one that has been the focus of intense debate in the UK for the past 6 years, namely why in all logic, fairness, and practical common sense are not British citizens (whose UK actions are forming the basis of prosecution in the US, and where all of the evidence on which they are being tried was accumulated in its entirety in the UK by UK police and shipped lock stock and barrel to US prosecutors), being tried in their own country?
Every aspect of the 4 years of proceedings in the European Court would have been avoided had straightforward early steps been initiated to prosecute in the UK . The notion of the appropriate forum for trial and punishment being the accused person’s own country is the subject matter of automatic guarantees in many countries which refuse to extradite their own nationals but instead, guarantee that if extradition is sought by a foreign requesting state, that it will prosecute its own national instead. Or - the case in Holland and Israel - they will extradite their own nationals but only if there is an unshakeable guarantee by the requesting state that they would be returned if they are convicted, to serve their sentences in their country of origin.
That extradition, an important measure practised between states, must be respected, is a phrase frequently applied in the courts. What is important to point out is that the respect due to extradition stems not so much from respect for diplomatic relationships between states, but so that perpetrators of crime will not go unpunished. In each of the cases decided by the European Court today what has been emphasised by the Appellants throughout is not that any accused should “avoid justice”, but that they should be tried and if appropriate convicted in the country in which the claimed evidence was found, in which the relevant witnesses are present (both for the prosecution and the defence) and in which none of the serious issues raised in the European Court’s extended proceedings would have arisen.
Birnberg Peirce and Partners
10th April 2012
Event Announcement: Extradition Watch - Richard's Story
Join Director Shami Chakrabarti and other
guest speakers, including Julia O’Dwyer,
mother of Sheffield Hallam University student
Richard O’Dwyer at Liberty’s Extradition
Watch event on Thursday 29th March from
6.30pm to 8pm.
Read more: Extradition Watch Richard's Story (PDF format).
The Guardian’s poll on extradition
The Guardian’s poll on extradition – 7 years of campaigning have at least got the message out ..
now it’s for the politicians to act on that message:
View the poll results: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/poll/2012/mar/01/extradition.
(05/03/2012) Christopher Tappin has been denied bail in US. US prosecutors claimed the 65-year-old grandfather would be a "danger to the community" if released.
(29/02/2012) Christopher Tappin has arrived in US jail and is in solitary confinement 23 hours a day with no reading materials.
Christopher Tappin to be extradited Friday 24 February 2012. The UK Government should be ashamed that the extradition law is still not changed.
On Monday 13 February 2012, the European Court ruled that it would not order a stay on Christopher Tappin's extradition to the US. Mr Tappin now expects to learn his date for extradition from the Home Office by Monday 20 February and expects to receive 7 days notice of his extradition.
Janis Sharp delivers Number 10 to Number 10 Downing Street.
On Friday 13 January the District Judge Purdy in Westminster Magistrates Court ruled that Richard O'Dwyer should be extradited to America on charges of copyright infringement. Richard awaits the Home Secretary's final order before launching his appeal to the High Court. Meantime, the decision has provoked visceral reaction from IT specialists, website operators, lawyers and swathes of ordinary members of the public. It has even attracted the attention of campaigners in the US - see attached video, particularly the first 3 minutes and the last minute.
Westminster Hall Debate
On Thursday 24th November Backbench MPs held a debate in Westminster Hall on the matter of extradition. Listening to the vehemence and eloquence of the arguments during 3 hour debate was extremely gratifying for those of us who have sought to highlight the flaws in our extradition laws since 2005.
The result was consensus for the need to achieve time for a full debate on the matter in the Main Chamber of the House of Commons.
You can read Hansard’s report of the whole debate here.
As a result there is now the following motion in the Main Chamber of the House on 5th December:
That this House calls upon the Government to reform the UK’s extradition arrangements as a matter of urgency to strengthen the protection of British citizens: by introducing a Bill in Parliament to enact the safeguards recommended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its Fifteenth Report of 2010-12, and by pursuing such amendments to the UK-US Extradition Treaty 2003 and the EU Council Framework Decision 2002 on the European Arrest Warrant as are necessary in order to give effect to such recommendations.
House of Commons Debate on 5th December You can read the report of this debate here.
Update on Babar Ahmad E-Petition
Thanks to the amazing efforts of concerned British individuals of all faiths and political persuasions, the epetition for Babar Ahmad has reached over 140,000 signatories. We are working with Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, Babar’s MP, to try to secure a debate on the petition and extradition matters more generally, in the House of Commons. Dominic Raab MP has already secured a Westminster Hall debate on extradition but we would like to see the debates conjoined – but only if it is to be heard on the floor of the House, given the massive public support the issue has once again attracted.
Today the Home Office published the findings of its 3 member review panel
Surprisingly the Review recommends no change to our current extradition legislation. This appears to fly in the face of the detailed report issued earlier this year by the Joint Committee on Human Rights which was adamant in its support for the inclusion of a forum amendment (see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201012/jtselect/jtrights/156/156.pdf).
We await the Government’s response with interest – will it choose to support the JCHR position, or that of the 3 member review Panel.
Action or inertia?
To encourage the correct path, please visit our Take Action page – and take action!
More than 140,000 people have signed the e-petition urging the UK government to stop the extradition of British detainee Babar Ahmad to the U.S and put him on trial in the U.K instead. It is currently the highest ranked e-petition about a single person.
Supporters of the Free Babar Ahmad campaign have today released a 3 minute song video on You Tube about his case titled 'Life is One Big Road,' encouraging people to sign the e-petition.
They hope to get over 100,000 signatures by 10 November 2011 to force parliament to respond to their demand of putting him on trial in the UK.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPuHTPVHnQE