Thursday, June 17, 2004

that's it, they're gone

Rod Liddle expounds on the iniquities of the 2003 extradition act with the aid of a learned friend:

Britain’s foremost expert on extradition (and the author of what I assume is a deeply eminent tome, ‘Jones on Extradition’) is the QC Alun Jones. He is plainly aghast at the ramifications of the new Act. ‘Previously,’ he told me, ‘everybody knew where they stood. The courts knew what to do and there was a home secretary to take final responsibility if a foreign state wished to extradite a British subject. Not any longer. The Americans want somebody, and that’s it, they’re gone. There is no legal mechanism to stop it happening. There is a small checklist for the magistrates to consider and after that nothing at all. It is ludicrous.’

And goes on to offer a kind word for everyone’s favourite hook handed fundamentalist, currently in durance vile:

… it is alleged that Hamza spoke to the ringleaders of the kidnap gang four times on the telephone. There is no suggestion that he was behind, or directly involved in, the kidnap itself, but nonetheless the Yemenis wish to talk to him and I suppose that one can understand their desire to do so. Extraditing old Abu to Yemen would at least have an element of logic about it, much though we Western liberals may worry ourselves about the equity and impartiality of the Yemeni justice system. But the Yemeni government has been repeatedly rebuffed.

Similarly, as British people were killed during the Yemeni government’s raid upon the hostage takers, and Hamza’s phone calls, whatever their relevance, were made from Britain, one could make a perfectly respectable argument for trying the man here. And indeed we’ve been attempting to cobble together a case against Abu Hamza for at least five years, but the thing has foundered because there is no evidence whatsoever against him. We are assured, by Mr Blunkett and others, that the Americans have found new evidence — in which case, why can they not share it with our own prosecuting authorities and as a result have the man tried here? Also on the charge sheet is the suggestion that Hamza attempted to set up a jihad training camp in Oregon, despite, again, never having set foot in the US. Why on earth would he set up a jihad training camp in a country where he has never been? And how would he do so?

I’m not sure that evidence is the point here. We’ve got someone who the authorities think is a bad guy, but whom they have no evidence against. Before they took the fingernail pulling end of the interrogation business in house, the US used to deport people in this category to Syria. Now that torture in the US comes with presidential approval, we can send people there for the same reason.