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Posts Tagged ‘Manuel Noriega’

22nd December 2010

The Wikileaks controversy has been captivating both the print media and the online media recently as it represents one of the most high profile examples of governmental information leakage in recent years. For those who are unfamiliar with the controversy a brief synopsis could be summed up by saying that the supposed Director of Wikileaks, Mr. Julian Assange, apparently came across approximately 250,000 leaked cables which were allegedly obtained by a military enlisted man in Iraq. The cables appear to contain information which was deemed “Secret” by officials of the US government.

The reason for this blog post is not to delve into the Wikileaks controversy itself, but the issue of extradition to the United States of America. To quote directly from a recent report from the Reuters News Agency:

“The risk we have always been concerned about is onward extradition to the United States and that seems to be increasingly serious and increasingly likely,” Assange told reporters in the sprawling grounds of the house in eastern England where he must spend Christmas and New Year.

Extradition to the USA is a serious proposition and it is this author’s opinion that there would be a strong likelihood that US officials may try to use extradition proceedings in an effort to bring Mr. Assange under the jurisdiction of the United States Courts. The news report went on to note:

Asked if he was facing a U.S. conspiracy, Assange told reporters: “I would say that there is a very aggressive investigation. A lot of face has been lost by some people, and some people have careers to make by pursuing famous cases.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said his government was considering using the U.S. Espionage Act, under which it is illegal to obtain national defense information for the purpose of harming the United States, as well as other laws to prosecute the release of sensitive government information by WikiLeaks.

One key question for U.S. prosecutors is if they can determine whether Assange collaborated with the U.S. Army intelligence analyst who is suspected of leaking the classified material. Assange has denied any connection with the former U.S. Army Specialist Bradley Manning.

The issues noted above are not well settled under United States law. Many, both in the media and across the internet, have argued that Mr. Assange is more “freedom fighter” than “terrorist”. Meanwhile, groups with opposing views have called for Mr. Assange’s arrest on the grounds that he has committed the crime of espionage against the USA. In any case, it should be pointed out that only recently the United States government went to great lengths to extradite Viktor Bout, the so-called “Lord of War” or “Merchant of Death” from the Kingdom of Thailand. As noted in a previous posting, this was not the first instance of the United States going great lengths to bring a foreign national under its jurisdiction for the purpose of putting them on trial as can be evidenced from the arrest and subsequent incarceration of Manuel Noriega (Former quasi-dictator of Panama). However this case ultimately plays out one thing is clear: Mr. Assange is likely to remain the target of attentions from the US government for the foreseeable future.

For related information please see:  fugitive warrant or Arrest Warrant.

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16th November 2010

In a previous posting on this blog, this author noted that Russian National Viktor Bout, suspected international arms dealer and supposedly one of the individuals who was an inspiration for Nicholas Cage’s character in the film Lord of War, was facing extradition proceedings which could ultimately lead to charges being brought in a Court of competent jurisdiction in the United States of America. Furthermore, extradition of Mr. Bout means that he would be transferred to the care of American authorities in the lead up to his trial. To quote directly from the recently released Associated Press article on this topic:

The Thai government extradited accused Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States on Tuesday to face terrorism charges, rejecting heavy pressure from Moscow for him to be freed.

The Cabinet approved Bout’s extradition Tuesday after a long legal battle, and Police Col. Supisarn Bhakdinarinath said the 43-year-old Russian was put aboard a plane in Bangkok at about 1:30 p.m. (0630 GMT; 1:30 a.m. EST) in the custody of eight U.S. officials.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that the government sided with an earlier appeals court decision that Bout could be extradited.

The issue of Mr. Bout’s extradition has been a complex and politically charged one in recent months as Thai Courts have struggled with the case in an effort to come up with a fair ruling. Exacerbating the tension for Thai authorities are the authorities in Moscow and Washington DC: each vying to see Mr. Bout sent to either Russia or the USA, respectively. To quote further from the aforementioned AP article:

A Thai court in August of 2009 originally rejected Washington’s request for Bout’s extradition on terrorism-related charges. After that ruling was reversed by an appeals court in August this year, the U.S. moved to get him out quickly, sending a special plane to stand by.

However, just ahead of the appeals court ruling, the United States forwarded new money-laundering and wire fraud charges to Thailand in an attempt to keep Bout detained if the court ordered his release. But the move backfired by requiring a hearing on the new charges. Those were dismissed in early October.

Russia says Bout is an innocent businessman and wants him in Moscow. Experts say Bout has knowledge of Russia’s military and intelligence operations and that Moscow does not want him going on trial in the United States.

The outcome of this case remains to be seen as Mr. Bout will likely face trial in America. Therefore any mention of possible outcomes in the United States Court system would be an exercise in pure speculation. However, one could surmise that after the expense of substantial time and resources on the part of the United States government to see Mr. Bout extradited to the USA it is safe to assume that a prosecution of Mr. Bout will be conducted with alacrity.

Extradition of high profile international criminals is not common, but when it does occur, the USA tends to pursue prosecution rather quickly. An interesting analogy to Mr. Bout’s situation is the American apprehension of Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian quasi-dictator captured and prosecuted in the early 1990′s for crimes related to drug trafficking and racketeering. Although Mr. Bout was not a South American dictator, this author believes that the cases are similar as they show how the United States government can be very determined when trying to apprehend individuals engaged in the international trade of contraband.

For related information please see: criminal warrant.

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