Babar Ahmad would be better off if he were French

Letter published in the Independent 16 April 2012. The Independent's editor chose to remove a couple of sentences. The full version appears below, followed by the Independent's version.

Babar Ahmad would be better off if he were French (full version)

Babar Ahmad, Gary McKinnon, Abu Hamza and other British citizens wanted by the US would be a lot better off if they were French. It's true that French respect for human rights is a bit selective. Sarkozy's attempt to rally the right-wing vote by expelling allegedly "extremist" foreign Muslims hasn't yet backfired as it deserves to.

But there's one thing France does well, and that's keeping the hands of other jurisdictions off its own citizens. France doesn't extradite its citizens to the US.

When Dominique Strauss-Kahn was facing charges of sexual assault in New York last year, the possibility that he might flee beyond reach to France so alarmed prosecutors that he was able to obtain bail only by waiving the traditional French protection from extradition. This doesn't mean that French citizens are above the law. It just means that if overseas prosecutors have evidence against a French citizen living in France, they have to send the evidence there and let the French courts do the job. It's a piece of straightforward Gallic common sense that we would do well to emulate in Britain. Unless, of course, we actually like the idea that our police forces can arrange to have us tried in either Britain or the US, just as they please.

Richard Haley

Babar Ahmad would be better off if he were French (as edited by the Independent)

Babar Ahmad, Gary McKinnon, Abu Hamza and other British citizens wanted by the US would be a lot better off if they were French (report, 10 April). If there's one thing France does well, it's keeping the hands of other jurisdictions off its own citizens. France doesn't extradite its citizens to the US.

When Dominique Strauss-Kahn was facing charges of sexual assault in New York last year, the possibility that he might flee beyond reach to France so alarmed prosecutors that he was able to obtain bail only by waiving the traditional French protection from extradition.

This doesn't mean that French citizens are above the law. It just means that if overseas prosecutors have evidence against a French citizen living in France, they have to send the evidence there and let the French courts do the job. It's a piece of straightforward Gallic common sense that we would do well to emulate in Britain. Unless, of course, we actually like the idea that our police forces can arrange to have us tried in either Britain or the US, just as they please.

Richard Haley