Crikey! I hadn’t realised this. We’re most of us well-enough informed about the way the EU keeps on trying to impinge on national criminal law, what with proposals about holocaust denial and what have you. But how about this:
British businessmen could find themselves in American jails after a crackdown by the US Department of Justice on trade with “rogue states”, leading lawyers say.Ali Manzarpour, a Brighton-based businessman, is in jail in Poland awaiting extradition to the United States, despite never having visited the country.
He is charged with trying to export an experimental single-engine aircraft to Iran. This is not believed to have contravened any British or European law, but because the aircraft originated in the US, the Americans are claiming jurisdiction.
The unfortunate Mr Manzarpour was apparently arrested in Poland two years ago and has been in prison there ever since, trying to avoid extradition to the USA — a country he’s never visited, remember — because of a perfectly legal transaction he undertook from the UK, having obtained all necessary UK export licences. As Lord Waddington asked, in a brief debate in the Lords, initiated by the Conservatives, this time last year
My Lords, is it not correct that, in exporting the goods to Iran from Britain, Mr Manzarpour broke no British law and, if he had remained in Britain, there would have been no question of his being extradited to the United States? If that be correct, why are we not protesting vigorously to the American authorities at their attempt to have Mr Manzarpour sent to America from Poland to stand trial for acts that took place in Britain and that were not contrary to our law?
According to Michael Marinelli, an international trade lawyer with Cooley Godward Kronish in Washington,
The US is asserting its juristiction over people in other countries… If you resell goods that originate in the US, then no matter what UK law says, the US says: ‘We can come after you.’
Particularly, it seems, if you’re small fry; The Times goes on to explain that
Cases being brought by the US Department of Commerce against companies breaching export rules indicate that, apart from rare cases, such as that of ITT [the world’s leading manufacturer of night-vision goggles, fined $100 million (£51 million) last month for sending classified material to China], nearly all involve small operations. Companies such as Shell, which is planning a £5 billion liquid natural gas venture in Iran, and Halliburton, which had an office in Tehran for years, appear to be of less concern to authorities in Washington than an individual allegedly attempting to to sell a light aircraft.