Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finally a limit

So it turns out that extradition from Britain to the USA is not open-ended after all. Ian Norris has won his appeal to the House of Lords against extradition on the basis of a wheeze in which price-fixing -- not a crime in the UK when he allegedly committed it -- was redefined by the US Justice Department as "conspiracy to defraud" so as to meet the requirement that the alleged criminal act must be an offence in both countries.

The US will apparently still try to extradite him for obstruction of justice. Hopefully the Norris lawyers will have a field day with the arguments made during the Scooter Libby case that if there is no underlying crime, there can't be obstruction of justice. The argument was of course shite, since the point of obstruction of justice is to obscure determination of whether there was an underlying crime, but for Ian Norris, it seems by definition there was no underlying crime under UK law.

It's not much help to Babar Ahmad, who faces a whole different class of problems, being accused of terrorism-related offences, but at least it means that the UK courts, unlike the government, are alert to the problems that the aggressive extradition policies of the US have created.

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