The nationality of a suspect cannot be the only relevant factor in deciding where a trial should happen. That is Russia’s approach. It is the reason the UK has been unable to extradite and prosecute the Russian citizens suspected of killing Litvinenko. Other factors such as the location of witnesses, victims and where the activities took place are also, surely, relevant.
The problem at present is that decisions on where to prosecute are made behind closed doors. We do not know how much, if any, weight US and UK prosecutors gave to the horrendous impact extradition could have on Gary McKinnon. It is time for a more open and transparent approach to decisions such as these. Until this is achieved, one fears that the diplomacy of power will remain the determining factor. I hope the latest noises from across the Atlantic are a sign that the UK is going to take a leading role in this long-overdue debate.
This issue is not, though, an excuse for delaying action on extradition reform. There are simple things the UK government can do now to build much-needed safeguards into our laws. The power to delay extradition until a country is ready to try a suspect could prevent innocent people spending months or years in foreign jails before their trial even starts. These kinds of changes could have a major impact and would not require us to tear up the US/UK extradition treaty or jeopardise our arrangements with the rest of the world.
Chief executive, Fair Trials International
• It is excellent that the extradition treaty with the US is to be re-examined, especially in the wake of the extradition of businessman Christopher Tappin, and this week’s signing by Theresa May of the order to extradite Richard O’Dwyer on copyright offences. The new review, with its hope of getting these trials held where the alleged offences were committed, will not be a swift affair. While it is being carried out, Cameron and the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, should urgently address the shocking case of another British Asperger’s sufferer threatened with extradition to the US. Talha Ahsan, a multilinguist poet from south London, has spent six years in a high security prison while his extradition is disputed. Before the new extradition treaty, the Algerian pilot Lotfi Raissi was freed by Judge Timothy Workman, who found there was no credibility to the US claims of his terrorist connections. Talha Ahsan should similarly have his day in court in the UK. Meanwhile, he should be out on bail, as he should have been throughout this ordeal.
• Now that Theresa May has approved the extradition of a British citizen for something that is not a crime in Britain, can we expect to see British citizens fighting extradition to Gulf states for converting to Christianity?
Fr Julian Dunn
Great Haseley, Oxfordshire