Roger Whittaker

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Babar Ahmad (3)

Wednesday 12th July 2006

When you have unequal and asymmetrical treaties between nations, and extraterritorial jurisdiction is claimed by one nation over the citizens of another, it is a sure sign that the country at the receiving end of the inequality does not have independence. And so it is in the case of the UK and the USA. The Downing Street poodle was very happy to agree to an extradition treaty with the USA which allows the Americans to get British citizens extradited purely on suspicion without having to present any prima facie evidence against them. (The reciprocal part of the treaty has not been ratified and probably never will be.)

This treaty will be the subject of an emergency debate in Parliament today because of unease about the way it is being used against the so-called NatWest three whose alleged crimes were carried out in the UK, but whom the British authorities have not chosen to prosecute.

By coincidence, the final appeal of Babar Ahmad against extradition is also continuing today. In his case also, the British authorities decided against a prosecution, and again the alleged crimes, if committed, would have been committed in the UK. But the existence of the extradition treaty seems to have proved to be a powerful tool in the hands of the British authorities with which to punish Mr Ahmad for having the temerity to complain about the fact that he was severely beaten by the police who originally arrested him in December 2003.

Also continuing is the appeal of Haroon Rashid Aswat against a similar extradition. This is interesting because he is the person who was named at an early stage as a likely "mastermind" of the London bombings, but who, according to Michael Meacher MP has not been questioned at all about the bombings while he has been in custody awaiting extradition to the USA on suspicion of quite distinct terrorism charges. Haroon Rashid Aswat is the person who (as Meacher explains) was publicly described by John Loftus (a former senior FBI prosecutor) as a known MI6 agent. How convenient for the British authorities that an extradition to America will remove him from the scene, with little likelihood of his telling his story in court for a very long time.

Of course, as you might expect, of these three stories, it is the story of the three white bankers accused of fraud which has attracted media attention, and for the first time brought to most people's attention the fact that if you live in this country and the US government doesn't like you, you can be forcibly taken away to be tried there with the consent of the British legal system and without any evidence being offered against you beforehand.

You can of course (like a number of British citizens and residents) also simply be kidnapped any time you take a trip abroad and taken in chains to Guantanamo Bay, but that method doesn't even pretend to be a legal one.

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