We have written before about the iniquitous 2003 Extradition Act which gives the USA the power to extradite British subjects without having to show that there is any case to answer. This was agreed by our pusillanimous government in the wake of 9/11 and was intended as an anti-terrorist measure. Of course, we could all have guessed that sooner or later it would be used to persecute innocent British citizens, and now we hear that our fears were all too real.
A young blind man, Alex Stone, has just returned from America after serving 6 months in prison for a crime he didn't commit, that has nothing to do with terrorism, and that would never have come to court in this country. During those six months he was kept in virtually solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, could receive letters only with difficulty, and couldn't write letters at all.
In 2003 Stone visited a special website for blind people called BlindKiss. There he met a blind American girl, Alma. They struck up a relationship and became close. In the end he went to America to stay with her and her 14-month-old son. The romance blossomed and they began to talk of marriage.
Then the 14-month-old son was diagnosed with injuries that indicated abuse. The family blamed Stone, and the police agreed with them. His American lawyer advised him to come home, which he did. Naturally enough, the relationship with Alma fell apart.
In 2004 Stone heard that the British police were searching for him, so he turned himself in. in April 2005 he was placed in the custody of US marshals, and flown from Gatwick to America. There he was passed from one jail to another and eventually wound up in a prison in Missouri, where he was kept alone in his 6ft by 8ft cell except when allowed out for a shower. An appeal to the British consulate eventually provided him with a scanner and software so that he could read letters from friends, but he had no printer so couldn't reply. He had one visit from his parents, but had to talk to them by telephone through a plate of armoured glass. Being blind he couldn't see them anyway, so they might as well have been phoning from England.
After six months he was granted bail and went to live in a motel. Finally his luck changed. Another child in the family, who Stone had never met, turned up with similar injuries, and expert witnesses on both sides of the case agreed that the injuries had been inflicted before Stone ever went to America. The child's grandmother agreed to give evidence in his defence.
You might think that would have been the end of it, but the Americans weren't going to let this Limey off so lightly. They made him take a lie-detector test, which he passed. Then they said that if he pleaded guilty to another charge, that of absconding from a police investigation, they would drop the abuse charges. He agreed, received a 147-day sentence which he had already served, and came home. Of course, this meant that the crime for which he had been tried, convicted and sentenced, was not the one he'd been extradited for, but hey, the Americans can do as they please, can't they?
We hear that Boris Johnson is heading a campaign by 150 MPs to get this ridiculous and wicked piece of legislation overturned - more power to him. The worst aspect of the situation is that the legislation is not reciprocal. The Americans can simply demand that any British subject be handed over to them without evidence or, seemingly, defence. But if British law wants to get its hands on an American citizen, the same doesn't apply - he would be protected by the American Constitution.
Look, we're all very sorry about 9/11. It was a terrible thing, and we're devastated for all the bereaved families (many of them British, by the way). But the Americans are simply using it as an excuse to further their ambitions to rule the world. We need to stand up to them, not give in gracefully every time their interests conflict with ours - the government's duty is to protect its citizens, not serve them up on a plate with a sprig of parsley behind each ear.
Let's not forget which country is the only one ever to have been condemned by the United Nations for a terrorist act - yes, you've guessed it - America! How like them to pick on a blind man who was just looking for a little friendship and affection. Bastards.
The GOS says: It's just occurred to me. This website has said quite a lot of rude things about the Americans - all totally justified, of course. How long will it be before the American marshals are knocking on the door of Chez Grumpy and whisking me off to Gatwick?
There is just one good thing about Alex Stone's adventure. If he'd been wrongly imprisoned in this country, he'd have been sent a bill for his keep while in jail. At least the Americans haven't had the gall to invoice him for all the hamburgers and hominy grits or whatever muck it is they eat. Yet.
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