Crispin Blunt today condemned the lack of any British Ministerial intervention over a constituent, Mr Christopher Emms, detained in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a result of a US abuse of the Interpol Red Notice System.
Emms was originally detained in the Kingdom as a result of a US extradition request issued in February, and has been unable to leave the Kingdom since - despite no allegation that he had broken international, British, or Saudi Arabian law.
In the last few days, Emms’ lawyer had been advised by Saudi authorities that his travel ban had been lifted. However, when they attended to retrieve his passport, Mr Emms was unexpectedly detained. Emms was later presented to a Saudi Arabian court who denied the US extradition request and released Mr Emms without requiring bail. The Saudi Arabian court also lifted the travel ban.
The Ministry of the Interior have informed Emms’ lawyer that he will be arrested and detained overnight any time they come across him and he will be again put in front of a judge even if they will rule as before.
Crispin wonders whether American diplomats continue to play an improper hand and pressure some Saudi officials to ignore their own legal rulings, even though this goes against Saudi law and infringes on the ordinary legal and fundamental human rights of his constituent, commenting: “it’s difficult to assess this when our government won’t engage at all.”
Mr Blunt further commented: “Emms should be able to come home NOW. The relevant departments of the Saudi Government need to know that the United Kingdom has an interest in this case, will not stand quietly by while its citizens are the victim of the application of wholly improper extraterritoriality by the USA with no evidence produced to support their case. There is also a perfectly good extradition treaty between USA and UK and Mr Emms should face any justice process via that route, not via an abuse of the Interpol system. It is a matter of fundamental principle. Our country, our government, owes our citizens protection in circumstances like this; otherwise what is the value of UK citizenship if we won't help them when they are on the wrong end of other state's behaving illegally. I’ve raised this for months with Ministers and now the Foreign Secretary and they can’t even be bothered to express concern privately. My constituent and his Saudi lawyer are desperate for his government to get properly engaged. This level of ministerial indifference is nothing short of callous. I have done everything I can to privately raise concerns so I’m left no choice but to make his situation and Liz Truss’s indifference public."
Interpol and extradition expert Radha Stirling has condemned America’s abuse of the Red Notice system, saying “We are accustomed to seeing this kind of abuse coming from states like China, Russia and Venezuela but it is disturbing to see it with such regularity from our ally, the United States of America. We have escalated this case to the United Nations and to Interpol themselves to ensure the US is held to account. The Foreign Office has been repeatedly criticised for their lack of intervention in human rights abuses against British citizens leading foreign nations to feel they have been given the green light to commit such egregious harm against our nationals. This has to stop”.