Upcoming Events

International | Crime and Justice

no events match your query!

New Events

International

no events posted in last week

Blog Feeds

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Saudi Human Rights Violation Fri Aug 09, 2019 20:41 | Human Rights

offsite link China?s LGBT Community Mon Apr 15, 2019 19:19 | Human Rights

offsite link Declaration of Human Rights at Sea Mon Apr 08, 2019 07:31 | Human Rights

offsite link NZ Watchdog On Limits Of Free Speech Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:44 | Human Rights

offsite link US Abortion Restrictions Violating The Human Rights Of Women Thu Mar 14, 2019 15:33 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Cedar Lounge
For lefties too stubborn to quit

offsite link 1989 revisited: 18 August ? Jaruzelski agrees to Solidarity government 12:59 Sun Aug 18, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Arranmore drones 12:49 Sun Aug 18, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Troubles ?tourism?? 11:46 Sun Aug 18, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Sunday and the Week?s Media Stupid Statements 08:37 Sun Aug 18, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Moon Landing Redux 12:45 Sat Aug 17, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

Cedar Lounge >>

Dublin Opinion
Life should be full of strangeness, like a rich painting

offsite link Some Thoughts on the Brexit Joint Report 11:50 Sat Dec 09, 2017

offsite link IRISH COMMONWEALTH: TRADE UNIONS AND CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE 21ST CENTURY 14:06 Sat Nov 18, 2017

offsite link Notes for a Book on Money and the Irish State - The Marshall Aid Program 15:10 Sat Apr 02, 2016

offsite link The Financial Crisis:What Have We Learnt? 19:58 Sat Aug 29, 2015

offsite link Money in 35,000 Words or Less 21:34 Sat Aug 22, 2015

Dublin Opinion >>

NAMA Wine Lake

offsite link Test ? 12 November 2018 Mon Nov 12, 2018 14:28 | namawinelake

offsite link Farewell from NWL Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Happy 70th Birthday, Michael Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Of the Week? Sat May 18, 2013 00:02 | namawinelake

offsite link Noonan denies IBRC legal fees loan approval to Paddy McKillen was in breach of E... Fri May 17, 2013 14:23 | namawinelake

NAMA Wine Lake >>

Extradition Then and Now

category international | crime and justice | opinion/analysis author Thursday May 09, 2019 22:00author by Michael Donahue Steinberg - Black Rain Press Report this post to the editors

The threatened extradition of Julian Assange reminded me of the trial of escaped H-Block prisoner Jimmy Smyth in a San Francisco courtroom in the 1990s.

Wikileaks and the IRA in SF: Extradition Then and Now

Michael Steinberg Black Rain Press

San Francisco, March 17-On March 8 whistleblower Chelsea Manning got sent back to federal prison. In the last days of his presidency Barack Obama had commuted her 7 year sentence, in part because she had tried to take her life while locked up. Her purported illegal activity: exposing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq for all the world to see. Manning's return to the joint resulted from her refusal to talk to a grand jury looking for ways to criminalize fellow whistleblower Julian Assange for similar journalistic activities.

A little over a month later, on April 11, British "security forces" in London raided the Ecuadorian embassy there, and literally dragged out the Wikileaks founder, who had been granted asylum for 7 years, dragged him to a courtroom, and then dragged him off to the notorious Belmarsh prison, where he was thrown into its dungeon, where he will languish while facing extradition to the US to face undoubtedly Trumped up charges. All in the same day.

All this took me back to the early 1990s, where "a hearing brought the conflict in Northern Ireland into a San Francisco courtroom," the September 10, 2010 San Francisco Chronicle reported.

That courtroom was presided over by Judge Barbara Caulfield, a Bush I appointee to the federal District court of Northern California. The extradition hearing concerned the fate of Jimmy Smyth, formerly of Belfast.

Smyth was one of 38 political prisoners who escaped en mass from the H-Block prison outside Belfast in 1983, only two years after 10 Irish Republicans had died on hunger strike there while fighting for their human rights.

Smyth and three of his comrades eventually made their way to the Golden State, where they lived peaceful lives for a decade. In 1992, simultaneous FBI raids resulted in the arrest of Jimmy Smyth in the Sunset District of SF, where he had been working as a house painter, Kevin Artt in San Diego, who had been employed as a car salesman, along with Pol Brennan and Terence Kirby elsewhere in Cali. They became known as the H-Block 4. Smyth was locked up in the San Francisco county jail, which he called "worse than the H-Blocks" in an interview I read at the time.

For the first 200 years of this nation's history, due to its revolutionary origins, there was no extradition treaty with Britain. Things changed in the 20th century, particularly in the Reagan-Thatcher "anti-terrorist" era. But a provision allowed a defense if persecution for political or religious reasons could be proved. This is the defense Jimmy Smyth used in Caulfield courtroom in 1994. The Chronicle article reported that hearing "produced emotional testimony about the treatment of IRA sympathizers in British controlled Northern Ireland."

I was in the courtroom a number of times during the four week hearing . The prosecution brought forward a series of high level British government and military officials, supposedly to give testimony. But in each case, when crossexamined by Smyth's lawyer, Karen Snell, the response was exactly the same, blandly evasive and concluding in an upper class English accent, "I am very sorry, but in keeping with regulation blah-blah-blah, I cannot comment further."

In stark contrast, witnesses giving evidence on Smyth's behalf riveted the courtroom of Smyth supporters with a catalogue of horrors systematically inflicted on them by the British occupation war machine in the North of Ireland.

I knew one of those witnesses. He was my tour guide when I went on a Republican sponsored visit to the North in 1988. While on the stand he told of the murder of his brother by the Brits. While doing so the prosecutor referred to a document my tour guide had been trying to obtain for his investigation of his brother's death. Protocol was interrupted by a heated exchange until the judge abruptly closed the courtroom. When it convened the next day, the prosecutor said the document in question was another one not in his possession. The courtroom, filled with incredulous, angry spectators perhaps felt they were back in Belfast.

In the end Judge Caulfield ruled in Jimmy Smyth's favor. As the Chronicle put it," In a September 1994 ruling, on of her last as a judge, (Caulfield) denied extradition, saying Smyth had shown he was likely to be persecuted as a Catholic and an Irish national if returned to custody."

But the US government appealed Caufield's decision, claiming that just because there was proof Jimmy Smith had been persecuted before, that didn't mean there was proof he would be again if back in the H-Blocks. Keep in mind this was when Bubba Clinton was in power.

So Smyth was sent back. He received no reduction in his sentence for the time he'd been locked up in the San Francisco jail. He remained locked up until after the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement went into effect and the H Blocks were emptied out. The 2010 Chronicle story reported that he then was living in Ireland with his wife and two children. In the wake of Jimmy Smyth's outrageous hearing, his fellow H Block 4 comrades were not extardited.

The Chronicle article was actually reporting Caufield's death a 62 from cancer. Not long after Jimmy Smyth's case had been before her, she resigned her post and went into private practice. The Chronicle said it was to make more money to support her autistic daughter. But I've always wondered if what she learned from Jimmy Smyth's case had anything to do with her decision.


Sources: wikipedia, wikipedia.com; 9-10-2010 San Francisco chronicle,sfgate.com

© 2001-2019 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy