Holy shit! Think I will have to cancel that trip to Cuba.

US says it has right to kidnap British citizens.

If the link doesn’t work for you try going to http://www.timesonline.co.uk and look up the story from there.

This just blows me away. It is possible I am making to much of the story, but still the implications seem extreme.

David Leppard

AMERICA has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States.

A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

The admission will alarm the British business community after the case of the so-called NatWest Three, bankers who were extradited to America on fraud charges. More than a dozen other British executives, including senior managers at British Airways and BAE Systems, are under investigation by the US authorities and could face criminal charges in America.

Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.

The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.

Legal experts confirmed this weekend that America viewed extradition as just one way of getting foreign suspects back to face trial. Rendition, or kidnapping, dates back to 19th-century bounty hunting and Washington believes it is still legitimate.

The US government’s view emerged during a hearing involving Stanley Tollman, a former director of Chelsea football club and a friend of Baroness Thatcher, and his wife Beatrice.

The Tollmans, who control the Red Carnation hotel group and are resident in London, are wanted in America for bank fraud and tax evasion. They have been fighting extradition through the British courts.

During a hearing last month Lord Justice Moses, one of the Court of Appeal judges, asked Alun Jones QC, representing the US government, about its treatment of Gavin, Tollman’s nephew. Gavin Tollman was the subject of an attempted abduction during a visit to Canada in 2005.

Jones replied that it was acceptable under American law to kidnap people if they were wanted for offences in America. “The United States does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared,” he said.

He said that if a person was kidnapped by the US authorities in another country and was brought back to face charges in America, no US court could rule that the abduction was illegal and free him: “If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse — it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.”

Mr Justice Ouseley, a second judge, challenged Jones to be “honest about [his] position”.

Jones replied: “That is United States law.”

He cited the case of Humberto Alvarez Machain, a suspect who was abducted by the US government at his medical office in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1990. He was flown by Drug Enforcement Administration agents to Texas for criminal prosecution.

Although there was an extradition treaty in place between America and Mexico at the time — as there currently is between the United States and Britain — the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that the Mexican had no legal remedy because of his abduction.

In 2005, Gavin Tollman, the head of Trafalgar Tours, a holiday company, had arrived in Toronto by plane when he was arrested by Canadian immigration authorities.

An American prosecutor, who had tried and failed to extradite him from Britain, persuaded Canadian officials to detain him. He wanted the Canadians to drive Tollman to the border to be handed over. Tollman was escorted in handcuffs from the aircraft in Toronto, taken to prison and held for 10 days.

A Canadian judge ordered his release, ruling that the US Justice Department had set a “sinister trap” and wrongly bypassed extradition rules. Tollman returned to Britain.

Legal sources said that under traditional American justice, rendition meant capturing wanted people abroad and bringing them to the United States. The term “extraordinary rendition” was coined in the 1990s for the kidnapping of terror suspects from one foreign country to another for interrogation.

There was concern this weekend from Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP, who said: “The very idea of kidnapping is repugnant to us and we must handle these cases with extreme caution and a thorough understanding of the implications in American law.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: “This law may date back to bounty hunting days, but they should sort it out if they claim to be a civilised nation.”

The US Justice Department declined to comment.

13 thoughts on “Holy shit! Think I will have to cancel that trip to Cuba.

  1. This sort of blows me away too.  I need to continue processing these facts.  However, I can’t help but wonder:

    1. What have you done that you are worried that you might be a candidate for kidnapping? 

    2. Isn’t this further proof in regards to the abuse of power under our current administration?

    3. We need to establish a more efficient, regulatory system for reviewing, modifying and possibly dissolving old, out of date, irrational laws/government policy on both federal and local levels of government?

    4. Are there similarities in other governments’ policy/law (ie. Great Britian)? What are the differences between those policies and the US one in this case?


    6.  It sounds unethical.

  2. Well, considering that the British used to routinely “impress” American sailors into the service The Royal Navy, there’s a certain element of payback, I suppose.  (Although I highly doubt that Dubya is historically-literate enough to know that.  A “history book” in his mind would be the Bible with a Disneyfied version of 1776, plus his biography tacked on.)

    Seriously, though, that’s scary stuff.  I hope that Gordon Brown’s blessed with more backbone than Tony Blair and raises Hades over this.

    Grethor—what a bunch of arrogant, jack-booted thugs!  Now I’ll be spending the rest of my day resisting the urge to bitch-slap every known Republican in the office.  Grrrrrrr….

  3. I have in the back of my mind a law going back to 2002/2003 where extradition laws were agreed with the US, but there was no quid pro quo from Washington- basically once the Bush team got what they wanted, they refused to reciprocate.

    The most worrying thing here is when it is used against people who have committed no crime.  Case in point was the head of an online casino. The company was doing nothing illegal, but because US citizens could access the site and gamble in contravention of US laws, he was arrested when he visited the US.

  4. As pointed out, it is similar to british impressment, except that was over soldiers, not criminals (small difference sometimes, but hey)and was one of the major reasons behind the war of 1812.  Somehow I doubt Britain will react as strongly.

    This kind of shit sickens me-our politicians and our voters, it seems, think that we should be allowed any action, any time, anywhere.  Masters of the Universe, we are!  I would love to see Britain stand up on this one and thoroughly prosecute any American agents caught attempting unathorized rendition.  If England decided to execute them, it wouldn’t bother me a bit.

  5. Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.

    Even this is bullshit because the line the US gov has drawn for who is and who isn’t a terrorist is pretty thin.

  6. Why do people keep refering to a conflict 200 years ago as though this was some sort of Quid Pro Quo.  Those sailors were not picked at random- they were attempting to run blockades to supply the French under Napoleon it a ‘freedon of the Seas’ type of protest. Incidentally Nappy was trying to do the same under the continental system, and the Union also blocked freedom of the seas 1861-65.

    Perhaps this refusal to recognise another country’s sovereignty is leading up to “Making stuff the american public wants to buy” Law, where CEOs of non American companies are arrested for taking business away from US companies.  Bush’s tarriffs seem to indicate the right of Free Trade is expected to be one way.

  7. So, Foriegn countries could pass the same law, kidnap George Bush once he’s out of office and try him for war crimes and the US Govt couldn’t say squat because they have the same laws. Do I have that correctly?

  8. Hehehe, I like how Lordklegg thinks.  It’d be dificult though with the Secret Service detail that he will still have.

  9. Would definitely lend itself to a third world war; much as I’d love to see the administrations held responsible for the global harm they’ve wrought, I’d rather let them go and die of old age than drive bloodlust.

    Wow, I never thought I’d see myself saying that. Maybe I’ll just go to sleep.

  10. Interesting history tidbits, LH—there was nary a mention of the “Napoleonic blockade” angle in our ‘merican high school history.  I just did a quick Wikipedia lookup (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressment) and snickered to learn that desertion rates were roughly equal between the impressed and the volunteers.  Understand that I love British history best of all (‘cept maybe Venetian), but I still wouldn’t put anything past your ancestors, wartime or no.  wink

    Of course, if you follow the link to the “shanghaiing” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghaiing), you’ll note that we Yanks weren’t exactly lily-white, and it took us until 1915—and then (I’m guessing) probably only only b/c of the nudge from “Fighting Bob LaFollette” (still an honored name in Wisconsin, where I grew up) to get our act together.

    Anyhoo, thanks for nudging my path into a little nook of history.

  11. So, Foriegn countries could pass the same law, kidnap George Bush once he’s out of office and try him for war crimes and the US Govt couldn’t say squat because they have the same laws. Do I have that correctly?

    Perfectly logical, which should give the Bushits reason to think twice about this policy.  “What if other countries felt at liberty to do this?

    Not that GWB would be in any danger but it’s a good test.

  12. This made me think about the Dog the Bounty Hunter case with the Max Factor heir.  Mexico wanted to bust Dog for kidnapping.  Wonder if the UK would want to extradite the “renditioners” back for kidnapping charges…

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