Withers white collar team persuades INTERPOL to remove at risk client from database

Anthony Hanratty, of our white collar defense and investigations team, and Ben Cooper QC of Doughty Street Chambers have recently been successful in achieving the deletion of their client’s data from INTERPOL’s database.

Mr C, a UK national, was wanted in Turkey to serve a sentence of 7 years’ imprisonment after having been convicted in his absence. The offences dated back to 2004 when while working in Turkey as a holiday rep, a malicious criminal complaint was made against him. While in prison he suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of the prison staff and other inmates due to his ethnicity, religion and sexuality. He was later granted bail and fled back to the UK.

Mr C was initially arrested in October 2013 on an extradition request issued by the Turkish authorities. Anthony and Ben were instructed to represent Mr C on appeal after his extradition had been ordered by the UK Home Secretary.

During appeal proceedings in the High Court, Anthony and Ben instructed experts on the ground in Turkey to investigate the assurances about Mr C’s safety that had been provided by the Turkish authorities before the lower court. They were able to obtain overwhelming evidence that the assurances could no longer be trusted and that the Turkish authorities had mislead the UK courts. In light of this new evidence, in May 2017, the High Court allowed Mr C’s appeal on the basis that extradition would amount to a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) and would also be oppressive due to Mr C’s mental health.

Despite the extradition request being refused by the UK courts, Mr C was further arrested when he subsequently travelled to Spain. Anthony and Ben assisted Mr C’s Spanish lawyers in providing the underlying evidence relied on in the UK proceedings and, in July 2018, placing heavy reliance in the findings of the UK High Court, Spain also refused the extradition request on Article 3 ECHR grounds. It later transpired that Turkey had submitted a red notice request to INTERPOL, which placed Mr C at risk of being detained in any INTERPOL member country, and Anthony and Ben were instructed on a pro bono basis to challenge the red notice.

Extensive representations were made to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”) that the retention of Mr C’s data did not comply with Article 2 of INTERPOL’s Constitution as there was a significant risk he would suffer inhuman or degrading treatment if he were arrested and extradited to Turkey. Despite the Turkish authorities strongly resisting the application, the CCF accepted this argument and decided that all data relating to Mr C should be deleted from INTERPOL’s files. In making their decision, the CCF attached significant weight to the UK High Court judgment concerning Mr C’s account of torture and mistreatment. In another point of note, the CCF also determined that the Turkish National Central Bureau’s (“NCB”) blanket restriction on the communication of data was improper and, while it may not lead to the disclosure of data without the NCB’s consent, it would be taken into consideration by the CCF as an aggravating factor when studying the Applicant’s claim for the deletion of data.

INTERPOL’s rules in relation to red notices are complex and expert guidance should be sought if you suspect that you could be subject to such a notice. Additionally, the refusal by a court to extradite does not mean that any red notice would automatically fall away and advice should be taken on the risks of a red notice in extradition cases.

Anthony advises clients on a wide range of extradition and INTERPOL matters and is regularly instructed to challenge red notices and to make pre-emptive representations where there is a risk a red notice might be issued.

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