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
Roger Giese faces extradition again
On 14 August 2017, DJ Margot Coleman, sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, sent the request for Mr Giese’s extradition to America to the Secretary of State (“SSHD”).
This is the second bid from the US Government to have Mr Giese extradited
The first set of proceedings started in 2014. Mr Giese argued that his extradition would be in breach of his Article 5 (right to liberty and security) human rights. In 20 US States, once a convicted person has served their sentence they can be made subject to a form of indeterminate confinement in a secure facility, known as a civil commitment order. He succeeded in this argument and DJ Coleman refused his extradition. The US Government appealed against this decision to the High Court.
The High Court gave the US Government an opportunity to seek an assurance that they would not seek a civil commitment order against Mr Giese if he was convicted. The US Government gave an assurance but it was deemed to be unsatisfactory as it was a qualified assurance. The appeal was dismissed. The US Government then applied to certify two questions and/or to reopen the appeal, but this application was dismissed by the High Court as they recognised that it was an attempt by the US Government to “have a second go” at a revised form of assurance, and was not a proper use of Criminal Procedure Rule 50.27.
The US Government re-issued the warrant for Mr Giese for the same offences he was previously sought for, with a revised assurance. DJ Coleman accepted that this assurance meant that there is no longer a real risk that his Article 5 rights will be in breach.
Unlike criminal proceedings in this jurisdiction, it is usually considered entirely proper for Governments and Judicial Authorities to re-issue warrants if their bid for extradition fails the first time. Criminal Practitioners may question whether this sits well with established principles of dual criminality and/or the need for finality in litigation. Mr Giese’s current legal representative argued that the re-issued warrant was “unfair and oppressive”, and we anticipate this will soon be considered again at the High Court.
Errors made by the media
The BBC and other news outlets have reported that he has two weeks to appeal. This is incorrect. Mr Giese’s legal representatives now have 4 weeks to make written representations to the SSHD to prevent his extradition. In most cases, the SSHD will decide in favour of extradition if the Court sends the request to them (the case of Gary McKinnon being such an exception). The SSHD has to make the decision within two months, and if extradition is ordered Mr Giese will then have the opportunity of lodging an appeal to the High Court within two weeks from that decision.
Please contact us on 0207 388 1658, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss your extradition matter with us further, or to find out whether you would be eligible for legal aid for extradition matters. We have a dedicated team of lawyers specialising in extradition who are here to help you.
Cheryl Low, SolicitorRead More