Mongolia: Britain caved on spy extradition

Sept. 20, 2011 at 6:27 AM
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ULAN BATOR, Mongolia, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Britain's courts caved in to political pressure when they allowed the extradition of a Mongolian security official to Germany, the Asian country says.

Mongolian Deputy Foreign Minister Bayarbaatar Bolor said Saturday that the High Court acted illegally when it allowed Bat Khurts, head of the executive office of Mongolia's National Security Council, to be extradited to Germany in August, the state-owned Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

Khurts was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant in connection with the 2003 abduction from Europe of Mongolian national Enkhbat Damiran, who was wanted in his home country in connection with the 1998 killing of a Mongolian government official.

The warrant claims Khurts acted as a spy during his visit to Europe, sent on a mission to abduct Damiran in France, drive him to Berlin, drug him and fly him back to Mongolia.

Bolor told local media the High Court was influenced by the British government's desire to not harm relations with Germany by refusing to extradite Khurts, Xinhua said.

The Asian diplomat asserted court documents from the hearings contained phrases such as "there cannot be two voices, from the judiciary and the executive branches respectively, on the same issue in our country."

Bolor said the Khurts issue won't affect relations between Germany and Mongolia -- Berlin is one of the Asian country's most important partners in Europe, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit the Asian country next month.

But bitterness was evident in Ulan Bator's attitude about Britain. Khurts claims he was lured to Europe by high-level British government officials on the pretense of discussing closer security cooperation between the two nations, when the real reason of the trip was to arrest him at Heathrow Airport.

The Mongolian government was led to believe Khurts was on a "special mission to meet with British officials and discuss bilateral cooperation on security issues" and was entitled to diplomatic immunity when he was arrested, Xinhua reported.

In appealing his extradition before the British courts, Khurts' lawyers in July argued his invitation to Britain came from "the highest levels" of the government, thus implying immunity.

Attorney Alun Jones told the Court of Appeal then that William Dickson, the British ambassador to Mongolia, had encouraged Khurts' visit, speaking of the need for "new horizons in relations between Britain and Mongolia" and to fight the "continued growth or Islamic extremism" in the country, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported.

Although Dickson was apparently unaware of the British border patrol's intention to arrest Khurts, Jones said it nevertheless constituted "clear encouragement" for the visit, and so he was entitled to be considered a special envoy under United Nations conventions.

"Consent in international law cannot mean, 'You know I consented but I crossed my fingers at the time,'" the attorney argued.

British Foreign Office attorney Clair Dobbin, however, said the government had no interest in luring Khurts to Britain and believed he was there to visit the Mongolian ambassador.

His bid to appeal his extradition was dismissed and he was extradited to Germany Aug. 19. His trial in Berlin is scheduled to start Oct. 24.

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