09/03/13: The New York Times reports countries often issue travel advisories warning citizens of danger abroad: war, for instance, or a terrorist threat or an outbreak of disease. The Russian Foreign Ministry posted advice of a somewhat different nature on Monday, cautioning people wanted by the US not to visit nations that have an extradition treaty with it. “Warning for Russian citizens traveling internationally,” the Foreign Military bulletin said. “Recently, detentions of Russian citizens in various countries, at the request of American law enforcement, have become more frequent — with the goal of extradition and legal prosecution in the United States.” Citing examples in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Lithuania and Spain, the Foreign Ministry said, “Experience shows that the judicial proceedings against those who were in fact kidnapped and taken to the US are of a biased character, based on shaky evidence, and clearly tilted toward conviction.” Extradition has frequently been a contentious issue between Russia and the US, but the disagreements have been particularly sharp in recent months over the case of Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who is wanted on criminal espionage charges but has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.
07/02/13: Reuters reports several countries on Tuesday spurned asylum requests from Edward Snowden, the former US spy agency contractor wanted for leaking secrets. Snowden has applied for political asylum in more than a dozen countries in his search for safety from the espionage charges in the United States. He is currently in legal limbo in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, unable to fly on because he has no legal travel documents and no Russian visa to leave the airport. Snowden withdrew his request for asylum in Russia after the Russian leader said he should give up his "anti-American activity". Snowden has prepared asylum requests in countries including India, China, Brazil, Ireland, Austria, Bolivia, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela, WikiLeaks has said. But several countries said on Tuesday they could not consider an asylum request from Snowden unless he was on their territory. Norway said he was unlikely to get asylum there, and Poland said it would not give a "positive recommendation" to any request. Finland, Spain, Ireland and Austria said he had to be in their countries to make a request, while India said "we see no reason" to accept his petition. France said it had not received a request. Snowden's options have narrowed sharply.
05/23/13: Phys.Org reports a new University-hosted database has tracked over 11,000 flights by more than 120 aircraft linked by past investigations to renditions. It also contains details of over 50 private companies contracted for or by the CIA in relation to rendition flights. The database is the latest addition to the Rendition Project, an online project designed to analyse the global system of rendition, secret detention and torture initiated by the US. The new database will enable users to search for, and visualise, underlying data contained within the Rendition Project via an interactive map showing rendition flights. Flight data underpinning the database is collated from over 40 separate sources. Launched in May 2012, the Rendition Project is part of wider research to collate and analyse huge amounts of data on the global rendition system. It is led by Dr Ruth Blakeley, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Kent's School of Politics and International Relations, and Dr Sam Raphael, Lecturer in Politics at Kingston University. They work closely with Reprieve, a UK-based legal action charity which has led the way in investigating secret prisons and representing victims of rendition and torture. The Rendition Flights Database, produced in collaboration with The Information Lab, a company specialising in this type of web tool, can be viewed here.
03/18/13: The Miami Herald reports Mohammed Rashed, who pled guilty to an airplane bombing that killed a Japanese teenager in 1982, will be released from a US prison Wednesday due to his cooperation with other antiterrorism investigations. The release does more than spring loose a convicted terrorist. It also could deprive the government of a star witness in the event that Abu Ibrahim, a Palestinian master bomb-maker who authorities say orchestrated Rashed’s attack and similar strikes around the world, is ever captured. A former top lieutenant, Rashed could implicate Ibrahim as the architect of the attack and help establish his identity if prosecutors ever could bring him to the US to face justice. Once freed, Rashed may not continue cooperating, though the Justice Department says it has enough other evidence for a conviction.
03/11/13: The Miami Herald reports a British judge ruled Saturday that radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada must remain in custody following his arrest for allegedly breaching his bail conditions. The cleric, who has been described as a key al-Qaeda operative in Europe, was arrested in London Friday following a series of raids by counterterrorism police. The arrest came three days before the government’s latest court bid to extradite him to Jordan. Judge Stephen Irwin refused on Saturday to grant the preacher bail and ordered him to return to prison, finding there was strong evidence that Abu Qatada had breached bail conditions. In November, a court sustained Qatada’s appeal from his deportation to Jordan and allowed him to stay in the UK; the British government will challenge that decision at the Court of Appeal on Monday.
11/12/12: Reuters reports radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada won a last-minute appeal on Monday against deportation from Britain to face terrorism charges in Jordan, a blow to the UK Government that says he is a huge security risk. Britain, where Qatada has been in and out of jail for seven years without charge since his arrest in 2002, had argued that a 2005 deal with Jordan and more recent diplomatic assurances would ensure that Qatada would obtain a fair trial there. Qatada argued his trial might be skewed by evidence obtained using torture, a claim upheld in a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. A Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin, described as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe,” Qatada has been a thorn in the side of successive British governments.
11/12/12: Reuters reports the United States has refused a request from Russia that convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout be returned to his home country to spend the remainder of his twenty-five-year prison term, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said on Saturday. Bout, 54, was sentenced in April after a jury convicted him on charges that he agreed to sell arms to people he thought were militants intent on attacking American soldiers in Colombia. Bout’s case has strained ties between Moscow and Washington: he said he was a legitimate businessman and the Russian Foreign Ministry has argued he was convicted on unreliable evidence. Konstantin Dolgov, Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law at the Foreign Ministry said Saturday that Russia’s bid to have Bout extradited had failed.
10/10/12: The Miami Herald reports a radical Islamist cleric accused by Britain and Spain of being a senior al-Qaeda figure is asking a London court to halt his extradition to Jordan, which British authorities have sought for a decade. Abu Qatada takes his case Wednesday to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which handles deportation and national security cases. He has fought attempts to extradite him since 2001, arguing that he could be tortured – or tried using evidence obtained by torture – in Jordan. Earlier this year the Palestinian-born Jordanian was denied permission to take his case to a European court, but it could still be some time before he is extradited from Britain, as extradition cases in the UK can drag on for years.