LONDON, June 28, 2006 (AFP) – British Prime Minister Tony Blair was under pressure Wednesday to cancel the extradition to the United States of three former NatWest bankers accused on Enron-related fraud charges.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg refused Tuesday not to grant the trio a stay of extradition pending consideration of the merits of their final appeal bid — prompting dismay among business leaders.
Sir Digby Jones, out-going head of the Confederation of British Industry, urged Blair to intervene and "defend the human rights of British citizens that are being abused by a country which is supposedly our greatest ally".
He said there was no prima facie case against the City bankers — David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby — and that they represented no threat to society.
"Yet they will still be banged up in a US prison with rapists and drug addicts, deprived of their liberty for up to two years even while a case is compiled against them," Jones said.
Later Thursday, in a "business suits" demo in central London, protesters are to deliver a letter to the Home Office objecting to what they consider the United States’ "aggressive extra-territorial reach" and its willingness to criminalise conduct that would not be condemned elsewhere.
The case brought by the "NatWest Three" — rejected by the High Court and the House of Lords — centred on a challenge to the legal status of Britain’s fast-track extradition treaty with the United States, introduced after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington in 2001.