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Entries in Extradition (13)

Sunday
Jun232013

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Leaves Hong Kong

Photo by The Guardian via Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified documents has left Hong Kong.

The United States request for extradition of Snowden was apparently faulty, according to the Hong Kong Government. They say that there was no basis to prevent Snowden from boarding a plane en route to Moscow. ABC News Chief Political Correspondent George Stephanopoulus says Snowden will also be free from U.S. Grasp in Moscow.

According to BBC News, Snowden may fly to another country from Moscow, with Cuba and Ecuador as two potential destinations.

Reports say that Wikileaks assisted Snowden in his exit from Hong Kong.

Snowden was charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence in a criminal complaint that was unsealed on Friday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Terrorist Suspects Extradited to Face Charges in US

Bruno Vincent/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Having lost an eight-year battle to fight extradition, radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other suspected al Qaeda suspects were brought into two U.S. courtrooms on Saturday to hear charges on various terrorist-related activities.  All five are British citizens.

The defendants were actually flown into the U.S. overnight Friday after losing a last-ditch appeal in British courts to block extradition based on human rights concerns about the conditions they would face in U.S. prisons.

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters that prosecuting three of the men, "makes good on a promise to the American people to use every available diplomatic, legal, and administrative tool to pursue and prosecute charged terrorists no matter how long it takes."

Bharara said that Hamza, Adel Abdel Bary and Khaled al Fawwaz "were at the nerve centers of al Qaeda's acts of terror, and they caused blood to be shed, lives to be lost, and families to be shattered."

Hamza, the one-eyed and hook-handed former imam of a radical London mosque, faces charges of conspiring to set-up a terror training camp in Oregon and kidnapping 16 tourists in Yemen, two of them Americans.

Among other things, Bary and Fawwaz are charged in the deadly 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Meanwhile, at a federal court in New Haven, Conn., Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan were charged with running a pro-jihadi website to provide terrorists with cash, recruits and equipment.

All five, who pleaded not guilty during their brief courtroom appearances, will be formally arraigned on Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep102012

Why Did the Obama Admin. Deny Bolivia’s Extradition Request?

AIZAR RALDES/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- On Friday, the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, announced that the U.S. government was refusing to extradite former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who is facing formal charges of genocide.

“A document arrived from the United States, rejecting the extradition of people who have done a lot of damage to Bolivia,” announced Morales, who called the U.S. a “refuge for criminals.”

The controversy dates back to October 2003 when Sanchez de Lozada sent his military forces to quell protests against his government, resulting in the deaths of 67 men, women, and children, mostly from the impoverished indigenous Aymara community. Sanchez de Lozada eventually fled his country and sought refuge in the U.S. In 2007, Bolivian prosecutors brought charges against him.

The move has prompted some harsh criticism from critics of U.S. policy. Writing in the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald calls this “a classic and common case of the US exploiting pretenses of law and justice to protect its own leaders and those of its key allies from the rule of law, even when faced with allegations of the most egregious wrongdoing. If the Obama DOJ so aggressively shielded accused Bush war criminals from all forms of accountability, it is hardly surprising that it does the same for loyal US puppets. That a government that defies US dictates is thwarted and angered in the process is just an added bonus. That, too, is par for the course.”

So why wouldn’t the U.S. cooperate with this request?

On Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell was asked about this, and he said “we reiterate our expressions of sympathy to the victims and their families who lost their lives or were injured in the civil unrest surrounding the protests of October 2003.  But as a matter of longstanding policy, we don’t comment on specific extradition requests, so I simply can’t get into that.”

Trying to shed some light on what’s going on behind the Obama administration denial of the request, ABC News granted anonymity to a source familiar with the matter to give some perspective. The source said there were serious technical problems with the Bolivian extradition request.

“The former president is accused of genocide for ordering security forces to suppress some violent demonstrations where people were killed,” the source recalled. “For extradition requests to be successful, there are two standards that must be met. One, the accused crime has to be a crime in both jurisdictions, and two, there has to be a reasonable belief that the individual committed the crime.”

The Bolivian request failed to meet both of these requirements, the source said.

As a technical matter, the U.S. criminal code doesn’t have the crime of “genocide,” so an extradition request would need to accuse Sanchez de Lozada of murder or conspiracy to commit murder or some similar charge.

Moreover, the source said, “the accusation is of genocide but there was no proof presented” in the extradition request that Sanchez de Lozada knowingly ordered the killing of these individuals. Clearly the military forces were acting on his orders to suppress the demonstrations, but so far the U.S. has yet to see any evidence that Sanchez de Lozada ordered anyone killed.

“The was virtually no evidence presented in the petition,” the source said, adding that the Bolivian government by reputation often sends “very defective requests” to the U.S. government, and suggesting that this may have been more of an attempt by the Bolivian president to get on his “anti-American soapbox” than anything else.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug152012

Ecuador Official: Decision on Assange Asylum Thursday

LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images(QUITO, Ecuador) -- Ecuadorean officials said Wednesday that they would announce their final decision on whether to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Thursday, but also claimed that the British government had threatened to raid the country's London embassy to get Assange back.

"Today we've received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange," said Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.

Patino said that Ecuador will announce its decision on Assange's asylum request Thursday morning. Some media outlets reported Wednesday that Assange had been granted asylum, but Ecuadorean officials said at the time that no decision had been reached.

Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy on June 19, after a U.K. court declined to block his extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with alleged sexual assaults.

Assange has said he fears that Sweden will hand him over to the United States. WikiLeaks has released thousands of confidential U.S. documents on the web, including many State Department cables.

Should Assange win asylum in Ecuador, he would still have to get from the embassy, which is considered Ecuadorean soil, to an airport to board a flight to South America without being arrested by British police.

British diplomatic officials in the U.S. did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment. According to the BBC, a Foreign Office spokesman said the U.K. government is, "committed to reaching a mutually acceptable solution."

The British government has also reportedly reminded the Ecuadorean government that under law it can revoke the diplomatic immunity of an embassy, which would enable officials to enter the building and apprehend Assange.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun212012

Julian Assange Seeks Asylum: Why Ecuador?

BERTIL ERICSON/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sought asylum in a London embassy Tuesday, hoping to dodge extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations, some observers may have wondered why he chose to throw himself on the mercy of Ecuador.

Assange apparently made his bid based on his past history with the left-leaning leadership of the South American country.  While the Ecuadorian government has said it is weighing his request for asylum, and U.K. police wait outside the gates to arrest him should asylum be denied, two top Ecuadorian officials are already on record as fans of Assange.

In November 2010, then-Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas extended an explicit offer of residency to Assange.

"We are open to giving him residency in Ecuador, without any problem and without any conditions," Lucas said.  "We are going to try and invite him to Ecuador to freely present, not only via the Internet, but also through different public forums, the information and documentation that he has."

President Rafael Correa walked those remarks back the following day, saying he had not authorized the offer.  But Correa is open about his admiration for Assange.

Earlier this month, Correa appeared as a guest on Assange's television talk show, The World Tomorrow, which airs on the international cable channel Russia Today (RT), and praised WikiLeaks.

During the 26-minute interview, Correa and Assange discussed the importance of the freedom of the media, the role that an independent press plays in a democracy, and the state of Latin American media institutions.

"We believe, my dear Julian, that the only things that should be protected against information sharing and freedom of speech are those set in the international treaties, in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights: the dignity and the reputation of people, and the safety of people and the State," Correa said.  "The rest, the more people find out about it, the better."

"We have nothing to hide," he added.  "If anything, the WikiLeaks have made us stronger."  

He noted that he thought the tightly-knit fabric of the Ecuadorian media establishment tended to limit its scope and objectivity.  Assange responded by telling Correa that Ecuador sounded like "a very interesting place."

Assange has now been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since Tuesday.  He sought refuge with the Ecuadoreans while out on bail pending his extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning for two alleged sexual assaults.

Assange had been living under house arrest at the mansion of a supporter in the English countryside and was subject to an overnight curfew.  By spending Tuesday night in the embassy, he violated the terms of his bail and is subject to arrest if he exits the Embassy's property, Scotland Yard said on Wednesday.

He has also forfeited the $380,000 bail donated by his supporters.

Last month, the British Supreme Court upheld the validity of a Swedish prosecutor's arrest warrant, and he is subject to extradition to Sweden by the end of June.

In August 2010, police in Sweden began investigating accusations of sexual assault against Assange made by two women.  According to British police documents, one of the accusers claims Assange pulled her clothes off, pinioned her arms and legs and refused to use a condom.  She told a friend that the act was both violent and the worst sex she'd ever had.  A British attorney representing Swedish prosecutors told the court earlier this year that Assange had raped the second woman while she was sleeping.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing.

Assange accused Sweden of investigating him because of "political crimes" in the United States, "a place with the death penalty for said offenses."  His supporters say that he fears extradition from Sweden to the U.S. for prosecution.

Rafael Correa's current term as Ecuadorean president is set to expire in August 2013, but he is eligible to run for reelection for another term that would last until 2017.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May302012

WikiLeaks Founder Can Be Extradited to Sweden, UK High Court Rules

BERTIL ERICSON/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who bedeviled the U.S. government by publishing a massive trove of formerly classified Pentagon and State Department documents, can be extradited from England to Sweden to face sexual assault charges, the United Kingdom's Supreme Court ruled five-to-two Wednesday.

In reading the decision, Lord Phillips, the president of the court, said: "The majority has concluded that the Swedish public prosecutor was a judicial authority within the meaning of both the framework decision and the extradition act.  It follows that the request for Mr. Assange's extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against extradition is accordingly dismissed."

Assange was appealing last November’s decision by District Judge Howard Riddle that the 40-year-old could not escape prosecution in Sweden based on allegations of two women involving "non-consensual, coerced" sex.

According to Assange, the sex was consensual and he was being prosecuted for political reasons.

His final recourse is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, which might only temporarily hold off his extradition.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Joran Van Der Sloot’s Lawyer Says US Extradition Inevitable

Sebastian Silva/AFP/Getty Images(LIMA, Peru) -- The extradition of Joran van der Sloot to the U.S. on charges of wire fraud and extortion in connection with the death of Natalee Holloway will likely take place this summer, his lawyer told ABC News Tuesday.

“The power of the United States will assure that Joran has to face a U.S. judge and I think the extradition will happen probably in two or three months,” Maximo Altez said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

Altez spoke to ABC News after van der Sloot appeared in a jailhouse courtroom at Piedras Gordas prison, about two hours north of Lima.

Peruvian Judge Zenaida Vilca heard arguments by U.S. Justice Department officials pushing for the extradition while Altez opposed the move on grounds his client could not receive a fair trial in a U.S. court.

The Dutch national is currently serving a 28-year sentence for the murder of Stephany Flores, a Peruvian woman whom van der Sloot admitted to strangling in his Lima hotel room two years ago.

He is also the main suspect in the disappearance of Holloway in 2005 on the Caribbean island of Aruba, where van der Sloot had lived most of his life.

Van der Sloot, appearing nervous and thinner than in previous appearances, was marched by prison officials to the courtroom, handcuffed and refusing to answer questions posed by nearby reporters.

The maximum-security jail is in a sparsely populated area of rolling desert-like hills. On one of the mountains overlooking the facility is the slogan "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives) in huge white block letters and below are the tents of some very poor squatters.

Altez spoke with ABC News after the court appearance and said van der Sloot was “very upset with the prospect of being extradited to the U.S. I haven’t seen Joran so down, so depressed since I took on his defense almost two years ago.”

The extortion and wire fraud charges relate to payments allegedly made to van der Sloot by the Holloway family for information on the whereabouts of their daughter’s body.

In court U.S. legal officials argued that there is evidence that will show that van der Sloot arranged for and accepted those payments. Altez says that van der Sloot was lured into taking those payments and that it wasn’t on his client’s initiative.

Although the judge and other Peruvian legal authorities claim van der Sloot will have to return to Peru to finish out his 28-year sentence, Altez thinks differently.

“Once he’s in the U.S. there are no guarantees that he would not be charged with Holloway’s murder although no such evidence exists,” he said.

The next step involves the judge sending her decision to Peru’s Supreme Court, expected within the next week to 10 days, and the high court then giving its stamp of approval to the extradition. At that point, only government ministers or the president can stop the process, which is highly unlikely, according to most observers.

“It’s not in our interest that Joran be judged in the U.S. because he is despised there. You could not find an impartial jury to try him,” said Altez, who said he will try to stop the extradition “by all legal means possible.”

“There’s not much you can do when you’re up against the most powerful country in the world,” he added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec122011

Former Dictator Manuel Noriega Returns to Panama -- As a Prisoner

Stephen Ferry/Liaison(PANAMA CITY, Panama) -- Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega returned home on Sunday for the first time since being ousted by the U.S. more than 20 years ago and jailed, but his homecoming was not joyous.

The 77-year-old was extradited from France and returned to Panama as a prisoner to face three 20-year jail sentences for crimes committed during his rule in the 1980s, including the murder of political opponents.

Noriega, once a U.S. ally, was removed from office in January 1990 after American troops entered Panama in response to his growing power and what many had said was his willingness to turn the strategically-important Central American country into a drug trafficking hub.

Noriega ended up taking refuge in the Vatican embassy in Panama while more than 26,000 U.S. troops clashed with government loyalists.  American troops finally removed Noriega from the embassy and he was flown to Miami, where he was convicted of drug trafficking.

He served 17 years and then was extradited in 2010 to France, where he had been convicted in absentia of laundering drug money through banks and using the cash to buy property in Paris.

Now back in his native Panama, Noriega's new home is a cell in El Renacer prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Serbs Protest Arrest of Ratko Mladic on Genocide Charges

Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Clashes between Serbian police and protesters broke out in downtown Belgrade Sunday as up to 10,000 ultra nationalists protested against the arrest and proposed extradition of Ratko Mladic on charges of genocide.

The protest rally was called by the Serbian Radical party, whose leader Vojislav Seselj is himself in The Hague, also facing war crimes charges.  It is the only major party to criticize the arrest of Mladic.

The demonstrations were aimed at Serbian President Boris Tadic's government, which orchestrated the arrest of Mladic in his cousin's house in the northern Serbian village of Lazarevo, after 16 years on the run.

The protests in front of Serbian parliament came as the 69-year-old former Bosnian Serb general denied, through his son, responsibility for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, the worst atrocity Europe has witnessed since the Holocaust.

The War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague has indicted Mladic on charges of committing a range of war crimes -- from the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia to the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia to the three-year siege of Sarajevo to the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO air strikes and, the most terrible of all, the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Despite calls for calm from the event's organizers, towards the end of the protests, groups of young demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and sticks at some of the estimated 3,000 riot policemen.

Hundreds of police operatives, some in full riot gear, some on horseback, moved in against the crowd.  Some beat protesters with batons and kicked them.  One policeman was seriously wounded, dozens of demonstrators were injured, while 100 protestors were detained, according to police.

Mladic's lawyer, Milos Saljic, meanwhile, is fighting extradition on the grounds of Mladic's mental condition, arguing he is not fit to stand trial.

Jurists at The Hague tribunal are carefully reviewing 11 indictments against Mladic, as they await his imminent extradition.  Mladic could be transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague on Monday or Tuesday, according to the acting president of the Tribunal, Mehmet Guney.

His trial on charges of genocide, including the massacre at Srebrenica, other war crimes and crimes against humanity, could take 18 months to two years to complete.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb082011

WikiLeaks Founder's Extradition Hearing Wraps Up in London

Photo Courtesy - Bertil Ericson/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared at the Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London again on Tuesday for the second and final day of his extradition hearing.

Assange's lawyers tried to hammer home the idea their client doesn't have a case to argue.  They said Assange could be questioned in the United Kingdom and there was no need for him to return to Sweden.

If Assange were to go back to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual assault, he would put himself at risk of being extradited to the United States, his lawyers have said.  But at Tuesday's hearing, a defense witness revealed under cross examination that the chances that Sweden would extradite Assange to the U.S. would be almost impossible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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