The UK Discovers Alvarez-Machain!
Apparently, the British are a little rusty when it comes to US constitutional law. They’re shocked — just shocked! — to learn that the US can kidnap a British citizen suspected of a crime other than terrorism even though the US and UK have an extradition treaty:
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.
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.
The British had “commonly assumed” that the US can only kidnap for purposes of extraordinary rendition? Really? The Supreme Court’s reasoning in United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655 (1992) — that an extradition treaty permits kidnapping if it does not expressly forbid it — certainly deserves to be criticized, but it’s not like the US has kept the decision secret for the past 15 years. After all, you can buy commercial constitutional law outlines on Amazon’s UK website…