John Howey, Partner at JFH Crime, has secured the discharge of a client wanted for extradition to the United States. Warrants for countries such as the United States are known as Part II warrants. Our client, an American citizen, was arrested earlier this year after a warrant was issued by the Federal Court in California. It is alleged that he had made a ‘false statement involving international terrorism’.
Why was he arrested?
In 2013, he was detained by the FBI in Rome airport. He allegedly travelled to Syria to join a group opposed to President Assad. At that time, the group in question was backed by the US Government. The FBI suspected that he had been fighting there and he was questioned about his activities. He was refused permission to continue his journey back to the United States and put on a ‘no-fly’ list.
In 2016 a Grand Jury in California indicted him on a single count, involving the making of false statements involving international terrorism. For extradition proceedings involving the USA, the US Government is not required to provide evidence of a prima facie case against the requested person, they simply have to show that the offence is an extradition offence.
What was the argument?
In this case, we argued that the alleged conduct would not amount to an offence in this country. If that was found to be the case. it was therefore not an extradition offence. The Government argued that it was equivalent to an offence of perverting the course of justice. There was nothing to suggest that our client was aware that making a false statement was an offence. Nor was there any evidence that he had in fact actually made a false statement. Nothing he allegedly said to the FBI could be shown to be untrue.
Although there is a body of case law in this country dealing with sentencing for perverting the course of justice, there is very little case law that deals with what constitutes perverting the course of justice. As a result, the District Judge decided that the United States Government had not proved that this was an extradition offence and our client was discharged.
What happens next?
The US Government have already indicated an intention to seek permission to appeal.
This case has now been reported by CNN and other news outlets in the USA.
In this case, John Howey instructed Mr Ben Cooper of Doughty Street Chambers.
John Howey, Senior Solicitor