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09 Nov 2017

Andrew Smith discusses extradition under the present regime in The Times

A battle between law and politics

Extradition has been a fraught issue in Europe for decades, long before the Catalonia crisis.

Last week, it was to Brussels that Carles Puigdemont and some of his fellow Catalonian nationalists fled hoping, maybe naively, that its “European values” would save them from extradition back to Spain under a European arrest warrant. Whether or not that will prove to be the case remains to be seen. The irony is that were it the Belgian authorities who were attempting such an extradition from London they might conceivably fail on the grounds that imprisonment in Belgium would infringe their human rights.

But Russia is not the only country regularly trying to haul back its citizens from the UK. Andrew Smith, white- collar crime partner with Corker Binning, explains that even though the UK has an extradition treaty with the UAE, in practice it would be very unlikely for the British courts to return anyone to that jurisdiction under the present regime. Meanwhile with some countries, such as Iran and China, there is no extradition treaty and so extradition “just would not happen”.

Of course, the elephant in the room and the most significant country to which people are regularly extradited from the UK is the USA. One rare landmark exception was Gary McKinnon, the computer hacker with Asperger’s. As Smith points out, it was Theresa May as home secretary who decided not to comply with the US request. But in making the announcement, Mrs May said it was the last time a home secretary would ever be involved in such a way — from then it would be entirely up to the courts. A teasing precedent.

Read the full article in The Times here, behind a paywall.

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