Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Extradition’

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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15th September 2010

The American Department of State (DOS) is responsible for a great number of government functions performed in the United States of America and abroad. On this blog, we routinely post information about issues connected to DOS in an effort to disseminate useful information to Americans abroad or foreign nationals seeking information about US Immigration. It recently came to this author’s attention that the American State Department has released a new edition of a publication designed to provide insight to American law enforcement officials regarding protocols which must be adhered to in situations involving foreign Consular officials. To quote a press release from the Department of State and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

The Department of State is pleased to announce its publication of the third edition of “The Consular Notification and Access Manual.” Produced by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Office of the Legal Adviser, the manual instructs federal, state and local law enforcement and other officials on actions they must take to comply with U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and other international agreements. It includes details on steps U.S. authorities must take when a foreign national in the United States is arrested or detained, dies, is involved in the wreck of a foreign vessel, or requires the appointment of a guardian.

The manual, which is available free of charge, supports the Department’s efforts to ensure that the United States meets its international obligations to notify foreign consular officials about their citizens in the United States. To order the manual or to access the online version, please visit the consular notification and access section of our website at www.travel.state.gov/consularnotification.

The Vienna Convention is an important pillar of American law enforcement policy regarding foreign Missions in the United States. The rules stipulated in the Vienna Convention generally apply to personnel of US Missions abroad. Therefore, reciprocal adherence to Vienna Convention protocols creates a more stable international community for all concerned.

These issues should not be confused with those related to Americans who have been arrested abroad. As a rule, the Vienna Convention does not apply to Americans abroad who have no government affiliation. Thus, an American arrested abroad is unlikely to be treated in the same manner as American government representatives accredited to a given country.

Americans arrested overseas or those who find that they are the subject of an American warrant are well advised to contact a licensed American lawyer who can provide insight into the methods for resolving a pending criminal matter.

For related information please see: US Warrant or Extradition.

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21st August 2010

The New York Times website reported the following:

BANGKOK — Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman who is expected to face gun-running charges in the United States following his extradition from Thailand, expressed confidence on Friday that he would ultimately be exonerated.

Those who are unfamiliar with this case may remember an American film which is supposedly based upon Mr. Bout’s life. The aforementioned article went further to note that:

Mr. Bout, who inspired the movie “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage, is suspected of running a large-scale trafficking organization that provided weapons to governments, rebels and insurgents across the globe.

As a general rule, international extraditions in cases which are covered heavily by the media can be exceptionally tense especially where two different countries wish to see differing outcomes. In this case, the extradition request could be viewed as highly complex, both from a legal as well as political standpoint, and this proceeding would seem to represent an important achievement for American officials as the article went on to observe:

The court decision on Friday… was a victory for the Obama administration, which summoned the Thai ambassador in Washington to the State Department this week to “emphasize that this is of the highest priority to the United States,” a spokesman said. “There have been a lot of conversations of senior administration officials with their Thai counterparts about this,” said one American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after staying up until 2 a.m. awaiting the news from Bangkok. American officials had feared that Russian pressure would prevail and Mr. Bout might be flying home. “This really was a welcome surprise,” the official said of the court’s decision.  Russia, which had been seeking to prevent Mr. Bout from being placed in the American legal system, reacted angrily. “We regret what, in my view, is an illegal political decision taken by the appellate court in Thailand,” Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency. “Based on the information we have at our disposal, the decision was made under very strong outside pressure. This is lamentable.”

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share a long and amicable relationship as the two countries have a history of friendly bilateral political and economic relations. One of the foremost examples of this relationship is the US-Thai Amity Treaty. That said, the recent decision would seem to have be made on legal grounds and not based upon political considerations. However, not everyone was happy to hear the Thai court’s decision:

After the ruling, Mr. Bout embraced his wife and daughter, who wept. He said nothing to reporters in the courtroom as he was led out in leg irons. The court ordered his extradition within three months… Mr. Bout’s lawyers had argued that the extradition request was part of a pattern of the United States’ reaching beyond its borders to punish its enemies. Chamroen Panompakakorn, Mr. Bout’s principal lawyer, alluded to the rendition of terrorist suspects by the American government and argued that the overall credibility of the United States government had been tarnished after the failed search for unconventional weapons in Iraq.

Regardless of one’s opinion about the decision itself, this case may represent a major milestone in international jurisprudence as the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America, and many other jurisdictions around the world continue to work together to bring international and multi-jurisdictional criminal suspects before lawful tribunals in both the USA and abroad. Extradition represents one area of international criminal law where cross border cooperation by authorities is leading to apprehension of suspected criminals all over the globe. In another posting on this blog, the issue of Royal Thai Immigration‘s decision to connect to American warrant databases was discussed. In an increasingly “globalized” world, it is becoming evermore difficult for international criminal suspects to evade government authorities. Meanwhile, American authorities’ efforts to apprehend those with an American criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, bench warrant, or arrest warrant continue unabated. Those who find that they have an outstanding American warrant are well advised to seek the assistance of competent counsel in the form of a licensed American attorney in order to deal with the matter in accordance with all applicable laws.

For further related information please see: Warrant For My Arrest.

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10th May 2010

In a recent posting on the popular website Thaivisa.com it was noted that the United States of America has honored an extradition request from Thai authorities that a suspect in a “drug gang” be extradited to the Kingdom of Thailand. The following is quoted from ThaiVisa.com:

BANGKOK: — Suwit “Cheng” Prasoprat, a member of the China-based “14K” drug gang, was handed over to Thai authorities on Sunday, nine years after a request for his extradition was filed, deputy attorney-general Thavorn Panichpan said yesterday.

Thavorn said members of the drug gang fled overseas after police investigators filed a case in February 2001 against Thaveewit Krairattanareuk, 46, plus Suwit and four others for having 3.6 tonnes of heroin destined for the US, and the attorney-general agreed to prosecute the gang.

Once it was discovered that Suwit was lying low in the US, Thai authorities filed an extradition request in March 2001, which was approved by an American court. However, Suwit appealed against the extradition in 2002, and though the Appeal Court upheld the lower court ruling, he appealed again to the Supreme Court. On April 19 this year, the US authorities notified Thailand that the extradition request had finally been approved and Suwit arrived in Bangkok on Sunday.

Lawyer Rewat Chanprasert said they previously extradited Boonsong Mekpongsathorn, 60, another suspect in the same case who also fled to the US.

Boonsong had been given the death sentence by the Thon Buri Criminal Court in January 2005, and the case was now with the Appeal Court. Thaveewit and another suspect, Komsak Kornjamrassakul, 50, were given life sentences in June 2001 and are now appealing their jail terms.

Narcotics Suppression Bureau chief Pol Lt-General Adithep Panjamanont said court permission would be sought to detain Suwit for a week pending further investigation, before the case was handed to prosecutors. He said the case stemmed from an arrest in 1998 over the possession of 126 kg of heroin on its way to the United States.

Police inquiries showed that Suwit, a Thai man with two nationalities and an address in the US, plus accomplices in China and Hong Kong known as the 14K gang, had carried out criminal activities in Thailand including arms deals, human trafficking and drug dealing.

Thai and US authorities worked together on the case until they had enough evidence for arrest warrants for Suwit and Boonsong in 2001, he said.

Adithep added that the police would extend the investigation to cover money-laundering and other criminal charges on Thai soil against Suwit, his accomplices and the 14K gang.

It was also reported that there are two other suspects in the same case – Suchat Rakraeng, who remains at large, and Kriengkrai Diewtrakul, who is in a Chiang Rai prison for another crime.

In an increasingly “globalized” world, cross-jurisdictional cooperation is becoming evermore commonplace. In the scenario described above, it is interesting to note that the subject is being extradited back to Thailand. There are some who speculate that as Thai authorities connect their computer systems to international warrant databases an increased number of foreign nationals residing in Thailand will be extradited to foreign jurisdictions as a result of increasing requests for extradition. Whether or not this will actually occur remains to be seen, but it is interesting to note the increasing trend of intergovernmental cooperation on an international level.

It should be noted that Royal Thai Immigration Police have begun integrating their system with warrant and criminal databases around the world. Therefore, there is reason to believe that this inter-connectivity could have a dramatic impact of Thai visa issuance and Immigration procedures in the future.

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