District judge says German extradition warrant ‘not valid’ and must be discharged. Fredrick Töben granted bail pending appeal by Germany but on strict conditions.
By Joshua Rozenberg, 29 October, 2008
Fredrick Töben, the alleged Holocaust denier detained in London a month ago, will be released on bail if he can raise £100,000.
The sum of money is described as ‘security’ rather than a surety because it must be lodged with the court and not merely pledged.
Other bail conditions imposed by District Judge Daphne Wickham are residence at an approved address, daily reporting to the police, surrender of all passports, no participation in public meetings, no media interviews and no use of the internet — even to receive information.
It is difficult to see how this last condition could be enforced.
In any event, it may be some days before arrangements can be made for Dr Töben’s release as the district judge ordered inquiries into other passports that he may have been issued in Australia, where he has citizenship.
Ben Watson, for Dr Töben, applied for bail after the district judge at City of Westminster Court ruled that the warrant under which his client had been arrested was not valid.
This was because it did not say where and when he is alleged to have committed the offence, under German law, of Holocaust denial.
It merely referred to ‘worldwide internet publications’ and alleged that ‘the offender is committing the acts in Australia, Germany and in other countries’.
The court rejected an argument by Melanie Cumberland, for the German authorities, that the required information could be supplied.
The district judge said: ‘Compliance, in my view, cannot be fulfilled by a drip-feed of information as and when the issuing authority provides it.
‘I find that the particulars are vague and imprecise, I find the warrant invalid and therefore discharge the defendant.’
She added that she had not been required to decide at this stage whether the alleged crimes were valid extradition offences.
Miss Cumberland said the German authorities would appeal to the High Court.
As I suggested in earlier reports, the arrest warrant may have been drafted in a deliberately vague manner.
Once the German authorities accept that the material that forms the basis of the charge was published in the United Kingdom as well as in Germany, Dr Töben may have a defence to extradition.