MP accuses Foreign Office of 'washing hands' of Brit detained in Saudi
Crispin Blunt expresses concern over lack of FCDO government intervention in overseas rights abuses against Brits.
30 year old Chris Emms has been detained in Saudi Arabia for six months, fighting an extradition request from the US for allegedly violating US sanctions against North Korea in attending a cryptocurrency conference. The disturbing element of this case is that Chris is not a US citizen, is not subject to US law and has not violated Saudi, British or international law in any way.
US law and has not violated Saudi, British or international law in any way.
“We are grateful to Mr Crispin Blunt, MP” said Radha Stirling who is representing Emms. “Mr Blunt swung into action immediately upon learning about Mr Emms' plight and has demonstrated true care and diligence for his constituent. We can only hope the FCDO and Liz Truss take his wrongful detention as seriously as Mr Blunt”.
Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and formerly a Special Adviser in the Foreign Office, has now expressed publicly his concerns over lack of action by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to secure the return to the UK of his constituent Christopher Emms.
Crispin Blunt said in a statement released today:
“Chris Emms was detained as he tried to leave Saudi Arabia on 4th February 2022. This was in response to a Red posting on the Interpol system by the USA. He has committed no crimes against British, Saudi or international law. He is accused of conspiracy with a US citizen to break US sanctions on North Korea, having met him once at a conference in Pyonyang in 2019. This is a straightforward exercise of improper “extraterritoriality” by the USA and the UK has every reason to resist this in defence of its own citizens in Saudi Arabia. There is no extradition treaty between the USA and Saudi Arabia and in these circumstances the USA should have produced evidence for his extradition within 45 days. His UK representatives raised their concerns publicly and with me and I raised my concerns directly with the Saudi Ambassador in London and invited the support of the Minister for the Middle East on 12th May 2022. Whilst the FCDO notified the Ambassador merely of their interest in the case on 15th May, they did not reply to my request for substantive action until 16th June. That letter included news of no substantive action at all. Having informally raised his issue with the Minister for the Middle East in the Commons several times I did receive a first-hand briefing from officials in both the consular and political teams yesterday. That confirmed that there is an apparent current regional policy of doing nothing to support the position of UK citizens, even if the legal position they are in is entirely without merit. There has been no protest to the USA for their abuse of the Interpol Red notice system, and no request to the Saudi Authorities to return this innocent Briton to the UK so he may face any US requests for justice here. I am unable to establish if the reason is lack of FCDO capacity or lack of ministerial will. There has so far been no satisfactory explanation.
I warned in May if no action was forthcoming, I might regrettably have to make my concerns public, and after consultation with Chris Emms and his UK representatives have now decided to do so.
Given my experience, both regionally, in and overseeing the FCDO, this lack of active representation of the interests of our citizens is very disappointing and contrasts with recent regional examples, including the case of Matthew Hedges for example. My interests are those of my constituent. However unwise he was to go to a conference in Pyongyang in 2018, he checked it was legal to do so and reported on what happened to UK officials. I hope that publicly expressing my “informed” disappointment I can prod our FCDO team, including its ministers, into action to deliver on what it actually says in the front of our passports: “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests And Requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary." Please get Christopher Emms home.”
Related articles and Resources:
Detained in Dubai: http://www.detainedindubai.org
Detained in Doha: https://www.detainedindoha.org
Radha Stirling: http://www.radhastirling.com
CLAN - Crypto Legal Advocacy Network - https://www.bitclan.org/
Due Process International: http://www.dueprocess.international
IPEX - Interpol & Extradition Reform & Defence Experts - https://www.ipexreform.com/