Rather than write a new blog from scratch I’m going to reproduce my letter to Andrew Jones MP below. I would draw particular attention to the penultimate paragraph which is the point most commentators overlook and is the biggest reason why this issue MUST be kept in the public eye.
Dear Mr Jones
I am writing with regard to the current extradition treaty between the UK and the United States of America which the American government currently appears to be abusing.
You will have read in the press about the recent extradition of the retired businessman Christopher Tappin on arms charges. Hopefully the case has been too well documented for me to need to go into detail here. It is sufficient to say that Mr Tappin was subject to entrapment by the US authorities (such police methods are illegal here but not in America) and at no point were any of his alleged crimes committed on US soil. Despite this, the home secretary (a member of your party) refused to block the extradition and, at the time of writing, Mr Tappin is currently held in solitary confinement in a Texas jail and has been allowed no contact with his family.
Equally concerning is the case of Richard O’ Dwyer, a twenty three year old student from Sheffield. Mr O’Dwyer set up a website that directed people to sites where media might be obtained illegally. His site contained no copyright violations itself, none of his servers were based in the US and he did not direct his website to the US. He has committed no crime under UK or European law and yet the US is seeking his extradition.
The 2003 UK/US extradition treaty was designed to enable the easy extradition of alleged terrorists but the US authorities are using the treaty to extradite any UK citizen they feel they have a case against. Surely, unless an obvious attack on the US people can be shown by probable cause, UK citizens are subject to UK laws, not US laws? Mr Cameron was elected in 2010 promising to review this treaty – a promise he has so far failed to keep.
Leaving aside the legal debate involved, there are also clear humanitarian issues involved. Foreign suspects held in America are frequently denied bail and held in brutal prison regimes for considerable periods before their case comes to trial. The distance involved makes it hard for defence witnesses to be called, thus prejudicing the right to a fair trial.
I am aware that these cases are ultimately the responsibility of the Home Secretary and ultimately the Prime Minister. However Mr Cameron and Ms May failed to intervene in the case of Mr Tappin and there is no indication that they will do so in the case of Mr O’Dwyer which is just one of several cases I could have quoted. I would like to you to clarify your own position on this matter and, if you are in agreement , to undertake to raise my concerns with the cabinet ministers concerned and to pledge you will speak and vote against this treaty in any Parliamentary debate.