The United States has refused to extradite a murder suspect to the Pacific state of Tonga. Sputnik looks at the US’ track record of seeing global extradition rules as being a one-way street.
A sailor accused of murdering his Canadian wife on a Pacific island, and fleeing custody, has walked free after the United States refused to extradite him to Tonga.
Dean Jay Fletcher was wanted for the murder in July 2016 of Patricia Kearney.
After his arrest, Fletcher escaped from custody in September 2016, boarded his yacht, the Sea Oak, and sailed to Pago Pago in American Samoa.
He was then arrested and transferred to Hawaii, but last week a court there halted the extradition process following the intervention of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Tonga’s Attorney General, Aminiasi Kefu, had also asked the US Government to return the sailboat.
Tonga Not Giving Up
On Thursday, November 2, Mr. Kefu said he would not stop attempting to obtain the extradition of Mr. Fletcher for his wife’s murder.
“We have very strong circumstantial evidence. We believe he’s committed a crime here in Tonga, and we won’t stop until we’re able to bring him to justice,” said Mr. Kefu.
The US has an extradition treaty with Tonga, but Mr. Tillerson reportedly intervened because he believed Fletcher may have faced execution in Tonga if convicted.
Apart from the fact that dozens of US states have the death penalty, his intervention appears bizarre, because Tonga has not carried out any executions since 1982.
The United States has a track record of double standards when it comes to extradition.
Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who lives in nearby New Zealand and is wanted in the US for copyright breaches against Hollywood film studios, tweeted about what he perceived as Washington’s hypocrisy.
The US has refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey, despite considerable evidence that the exiled cleric was behind last year’s coup.
They also refused to extradite former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to his native Bolivia, where he was accused of ordering the massacre of 67 men, women and children.
De Lozada, who was fiercely pro-Washington, was forced from office and went into exile in the US, to be replaced by the left-wing Evo Morales.
The US has steadfastly refused to extradite him to stand chances of genocide against Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara community.
Controversial Extradition Treaty With Britain
The US-UK Extradition Treaty came into effect in 2004, but the majority of extraditions have been British nationals sent to the US for crimes which were often based on quite flimsy evidence.
The Nat West Three were a group of British bankers who were extradited to Texas on fraud charges. They eventually pleaded guilty in 2007 to wire fraud, after a plea bargain, but after their release in 2010 they claimed their guilty plea had been made under duress.
In 2012, the then-Home Secretary Theresa May blocked the extradition of Gary McKinnon, who hacked into NASA’s computers.
Three years later McKinnon gave an interview in which he claimed to have found evidence the US had a fleet of “space warships”.
Also extradited to the US, in 2014, was David McIntyre, a former soldier, who said he was accused of fraud while serving in Afghanistan after another man named him in a plea bargain.