Saturday, October 04, 2008

Chris Huhne right to oppose Toben extradition

Well done to Chris Huhne, Lib Dem shadow home secretary, for opposing the extradition of Gerald Toben to Germany:

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), acting for the German authorities, argues that agreements signed in 2003 between the UK and other European countries mean that Britain is duty-bound to assist the German authorities.

But Mr Huhne, a former MEP, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that countries could "pick and choose" cases in which they would apply warrants issued by fellow EU member states.

The Lib Dem home affairs spokesman said there were good legal grounds for refusing to participate. He cited the case of Belgium, which is refusing to send suspects to Poland on murder charges which related to abortion.

Mr Huhne said: "There is a clear precedent for doing this and I think we should in this case."

As Tim Worstall explained yesterday, the implications of this case go far beyond Toben's fate:

It’s getting rather frustrating actually, trying to get people to listen to the important part of the whole thing.

Being dragged off a plane in transit, no extradition hearings (today’s performance at Westminster Magistrates will not examine any evidence), the European Arrest Warrant and so on are all bad enough.

But look at the actual crime he is accused of. No, not holocaust denial, vile though that is (and yes, I think he’s a scumbag for advancing such a view), it’s actually that from Australia he runs a website. And that website says things which are illegal under German law. That is his crime.

The implication of which is that Germany is taking it upon itself to censor anything which appears on the net. Anywhere.

And if you break German law they’ll prosecute you, the British coppers have to hand you over and you can be banged up for five years.

Tim goes on to point out if that British courts refuse to make use of their discretion in such cases then we shall see people extradited to other European countries for offences that look bizarre to us in Britain:
if you break French law (insulting bureaucrats is a crime there), or Italian law (insulting the Pope is a crime there) or Romanian law (who in hell knows?) on the internet, then you can be dragged off and jailed there as well.
It is also worth pointing out that if Turkey were to join the EU with its current legal code intact then it would be an offence to say that the Armenian Genocide did take place.

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