UK businessman Chris Tappin was extradited from the UK to the USA on charges that he conspired to ship batteries for use in missiles by Iran. These batteries fell under an export ban in the USA. He claims he was set up by the USA and that he was given assurances that the shipment was legal.
Whether he did or not arrange the shipment is not the reason why this case caused such a stir in the UK. It has thrown light on some wholly unsavory aspects of the extradition treaty several European countries have with the USA.
Under the treaty rules the USA can simply request a European national to be extradited for trial to the USA. They do not need to give any evidence for this whatsoever. If they do not like what you are doing, have the wrong faith, the wrong colour eyes or wear beard and a moustache, said something unsavory about the USA in an email or on the web they can just say: “We suspect this person of (make something up)”. Your country is then obliged to send you packing to the US fro trial. No questions asked.
They will make sure that the offense you’re charged with carries a hefty jail term if found guilty. In order to be seen successful in putting criminals behind bars the US will then propose a plea bargain with a much reduced sentence. Many people don’t have the guts to fight the US ‘legal’ system as this is extraordinary expensive and cases can take years to resolve. They simply accept the plea bargain offer and serve a short period of time, guilty or not.
This really is a ‘rich man’s’ legal system, where you will be let off the hook when you can afford to fight the system. If not, your only option is to accept a plea bargain, regardless of the fact whether you are innocent or not.
With that in mind you would expect the UK legal system would protect their citizens against unfair treatment, as that’s what it certainly looks like. You would at least expect that questions are asked about proof and that suspects are treated in the same way as in the UK. In the end the ‘offense’ was not even committed in the USA but in the UK. It would therefore fall under UK law and not under US law.
This creates the weird situation that European citizens can be prosecuted in the USA for offenses under US law ‘committed’ in Europe where the ‘offense’ is not an ‘offense’.
I wonder how the Americans would react if Republican presidential candidate Santorum would be summoned by the Dutch state for insulting their country over the euthanasia farce where he claimed 10% of all Dutch deaths were veiled killings. The Dutch could make up some clap trap to get him extradited.
Wouldn’t go down very well in the States I suspect.
So, what can you do to prevent the USA from demanding that you are extradited and tried in the USA?
1. Don’t buy US made goods. You’ll never know if these contain something that might prompt the US authorities to launch a claim that you contravened US laws.
2. Don’t download American software or from a server based in the USA. They can claim all sorts of things to get you extradited. In their eyes you might have ‘hacked’ into the server to get the software.
3. Don’t send any email. Email is broken up in different pieces and sent via the fastest route. If one of these routes contains a US based server, they theoretically can charge you.
Thinking of it, I might be in danger now as I might have stepped on Uncle Sam’s toes. Wonder what they might come up with to get me extradited?