US seeks extradition of cannabis seed seller from UK

The US is seeking the extradition of Gypsy Nirvana, a British businessman, from the UK to face trial on charges relating to the production, distribution, and possession of cannabis seeds. A UK Court dismissed the request in X, on the grounds that his seed business was not illegal in the UK, and the US is now appealing that decision.

The US investigation into Nirvana began in 2013, while he was living in the Philippines. He was detained there for 30 months, until the UK embassy eventually secured his return to the UK.

Former Catalan education minister goes into exile in Scotland

The former education minister of Catalonia Clara Ponsati, appointed by former-President Carles Puigdemont in July 2017, has resigned and gone into exile in Scotland. She fled Spain for Belgium after Catalonia declared independence last October, and is wanted by Spain on charges of sedition and rebellion. A number of pro-independence politicians have already been jailed by Spain on charges connected to Catalonia’s declaration of independence.

Spain has struggled to secure the extradition of several government ministers who fled last year, and withdrew a European Arrest Warrant for them after Belgium did not recognise the charges against them.  It has also been rebuffed by Switzerland who found Ponsati was wanted “for political crimes”.

Jordan seeks extradition of Walid al-Kurdi on corruption charges

Jordan has requested that Interpol issue a red notice for Jordanian man Walid al-Kurdi, 72, who has been sentenced to 37 years of hard labour on allegations of corruption. Mr al-Kurdi, a former chairman of the Jordan Phosphates Mining Company, is currently in self-imposed exile in the UK.

Germany declines to extradite traders charged with Euribor rigging to the UK

Germany has declined an extradition request from the UK for four traders at Deutsche Bank AG who are charged in the UK with rigging the Euribor interest rate benchmark. The decision came after a German court ruled that the alleged crimes had taken place too far in the past to be tried.

However, the traders still face arrest warrants in other EU countries such as France and Italy, and the UK could also choose to pursue them through Interpol after it leaves the EU.

Singapore assures UK wanted bank robber will not face corporal punishment if extradited

Singapore has agreed to the UK’s request for an assurance that, if extradited to Singapore, Canadian David James Roach would not be sentenced to corporal punishment. Singapore is seeking the extradition of Mr Roach on charges of robbery and money laundering, after he allegedly stole $30,000 from a branch of Standard Chartered in an unarmed robbery. The charges carry possible penalties of up to 10 years in jail and at least six strokes of the cane for the robbery charge.

He originally fled to Thailand, where he was arrested, but Thailand refused Singapore’s extradition request on the basis that the countries have no extradition treaty between them. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail in Thailand, after which he sought to return to Canada but was arrested at Heathrow airport in the UK.

US withdraws extradition request for Lauri Love

The US has withdrawn its request that the UK extradite Lauri Love, who is charged by the US with hacking into several government agencies and stealing large amounts of data in 2012 and 2013. However, the US agreed with the UK High Court’s recent finding that extradition would be oppressive to Mr Love’s mental and physical health (see previous blog).

Mr Love still faces prosecution in the UK, but with a substantially lower sentence if found guilty.

Sweden wanted to withdraw its extradition request for Julian Assange in 2013

It is reported that Sweden wanted to withdraw its extradition request for Julian Assange in 2013, but was dissuaded by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012.

Sweden’s Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny is said to have written to the CPS in 2013 stating that Sweden felt “obliged to lift the detention order…and to withdraw the European Arrest Warrant”, noting that “The time passing, the costs, and how service the crime is” had to be taken into account. She added that Swedish law required “coercive measures to be proportionate”.

Sweden did not ultimately withdraw its extradition request for Mr Assange until 2017.

UK court upholds Lauri Love’s appeal against extradition to the US

The UK High Court has upheld Lauri Love’s appeal against his extradition to the United States, in Love v United States [2018] EWHC 172 (Admin). Mr Love is accused by the US of conducting a series of cyber-attacks against private companies and US government agencies, including NASA, the Department of Defence, and the Federal Reserve.

In its judgment, the Court accepted both of Love’s key arguments. First, it agreed that the high threshold for barring extradition on the grounds that it would be oppressive were met in Mr Love’s case. It noted he would be at high risk of suicide if extradited, and that putting him on suicide watch was itself “likely to have a seriously adverse effect on his very vulnerable and unstable mental and physical wellbeing”.

Second, the Court also agreed that Mr Love’s case met the threshold for the forum bar, which prevents extradition when it would not be in the interests of justice. It said that the combination of several factors persuaded it that the forum bar applied, namely the prospect that Mr Love would be unfit to plead, the extent to which his well-being was bound up with the presence of his parents, and the fact the prosecutor provided no view on whether the UK was the most appropriate jurisdiction.

In respect of the third factor, the prosecutor is given two opportunities under s. 83 Extradition Act 2003 to express a view and the Court found that the absence of any view weighs in favour of the forum bar applying. However, it emphasised that, where the forum bar does operate to prevent extradition, prosecution in the UK should follow as a natural consequence.

The Court did not consider Articles 3 & 8 ECHR, having upheld Mr Love’s appeal on the aforementioned grounds.

UK declines to provide Pakistan with new information on former Prime Minister

It is reported that the UK’s authorities declined to provide a team from Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with any new information concerning former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family during their recent trip to the UK. The NAB team is said to have made an MLA request in relation to Mr Sharif, who along with 3 of his children is being investigated by Pakistan on charges of corruption.

Malarz v Regional Court of Opole, Poland – Appeal against extradition from UK dismissed

EAW – England and Wales – Poland – Appeal – Appeal dismissed – Abuse of process – Article 8 ECHR – Validity of EAW

Wojciech Malarz appealed against his extradition from the UK to Poland on a conviction EAW (“the third EAW”), where he is wanted to serve a sentence of 14 months’ imprisonment for assault. The Administrative Court dismissed his appeal, in Malarz v Regional Court of Opole, Poland [2018] EWHC 28 (Admin).

Two previous EAWs issued by Poland in respect of the assault and a separate conviction for unlawful assembly had already been discharged by the UK courts.

Abuse of process

The Court dismissed the appellant’s argument that the third EAW was an abuse of process, which he based on the fact that Poland had not stated the difference between the third and the unsuccessful first EAW concerning his assault conviction. The Court found that although it was unfortunate that no explanation was provided sooner, this was far from being cogent evidence that the judicial authority had sought to subvert or impugn the integrity of the Extradition Act 2003 or the EAW regime.

The Court also noted that an inconsistency in the third EAW stating two different limitation periods, although bordering on incompetent, did not change the fact that it was a warrant in proper form and substance on which the first instance judge was bound to act.

Article 8 ECHR

The Court acknowledged a failure by the CPS to properly oversee the appellant’s case, including with respect to the above inconsistency in stated limitation periods, leading to delays and a confounded expectation on the appellant’s part that he would not be extradited. However, although these factors weighed against the proportionality of extradition, it found that neither they nor the appellant’s developed family life in the UK outweighed the public interest in his extradition.

The Court noted that this was not the only possibly view under the Polish Judicial Authorities v Celinski test, but that the first instance judge was not wrong to take it.

Validity of the EAW

Although an earlier EAW in respect of the appellant’s assault conviction in Poland had been discharged by the UK courts, the Court found that the amended third EAW was substantively different and therefore valid. In support of this finding, it also noted that the appellant was well aware that Poland intended to press for his extradition under the third EAW.