Britain to review extradition agreements amid outcry: report

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Britain will review its extradition agreements with the United States and European nations amid concerns that the current system is failing to protect British citizens, a report said Tuesday.

Home Secretary Theresa May will soon announce an independent review, which could lead to foreign governments being required to provide more evidence before British courts grant a request, the Daily Telegraph newspaper said.

It could also give the home secretary more powers to block individual extraditions, it said.

The news comes after several cases here that have triggered public outrage over current agreements, particularly with the United States. Critics claim the agreement with Washington is biased against Britain.

In the most high-profile case, a Briton suffering from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, faces extradition to the US where he is accused of hacking into American military and NASA computers.

Gary McKinnon claims he was only looking for evidence of unidentified flying objects. The case sparked a storm of protest and Prime Minister David Cameron raised it when he held talks with US President Barack Obama in July.

The review, which will report next year, is to examine five areas of the 2003 Extradition Act, including the relationship with Washington and the operation of the European Arrest Warrant, reported the Telegraph.

More than 1,000 people were extradited from Britain under one or other of the procedures last year, according to the paper.

Under the review, lawyers and international relations experts, led by a judge, will examine whether the agreement with the United States needs to be changed, said the Telegraph.

Concerns have been raised that the United States is not required to offer any substantial proof of an allegation when seeking the extradition of a suspect from Britain to stand trial.

Tony Baldry, a lawmaker from the Conservative party which holds power as part of a coalition government, said Monday the widely-held view that the agreement with the US was unfair to Britain did little to reinforce the "mutual trust" between the allies.

May, also a Conservative, responded that she thought it was "entirely right for the coalition government to agree that we will review that treaty".

© 2010 AFP

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