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Mongolian spy chief fights extradition to Germany

Bat Khurts, head of Mongolia's anti-terrorism agency, says he thought he was coming to London on state business but was instead tricked and arrested. In jail since September, he's now fighting extradition to Germany.

Spy in Berlin in front of Brandenburg Gate

Khurts is wanted in Germany on kidnapping charges

The head of Mongolia's counterterrorism agency has appeared in a UK court to fight his extradition under a European Arrest Warrant to Germany, where he is wanted on kidnapping charges.

Bat Khurts was arrested in September at London's Heathrow airport, reportedly unaware there was a warrant against him.

His lawyer, Duncan Macdonald, accuses the UK of duplicitously luring his client to Britain on false pretences, to arrest him at the request of the German government.

"He was coming to the UK on the basis he was coming to discuss state business," Macdonald said. "As far as he was concerned he was going to have some meetings with individuals from the UK security services and he had been issued with a visa by the UK border agency [...] on the basis he was coming here to discuss state business."

Macdonald said Khurts was traveling on a diplomatic passport with a business visa.

As a result of the arrest, Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaataryn Batbold cancelled a trip to the UK in November and currently has no plans to revise his decision.

Heathrow airport

Khurt was arrested on arrival at Heathrow

Kidnapping accusations

Khurts is accused of kidnapping a Mongolian national in France in 2003, who was allegedly drugged and returned to Mongolia from Berlin.

The victim was Damiran Enkhbat, who was wanted for questioning back in Mongolia, in connection with the murder of a Mongolian government minister ten years ago.

Macdonald says that when senior UK officials invited Khurts to talks on Islamic radicalization and counterterrorism, they were acting under pressure from Germany. He admits there is little room for maneuver under the European Arrest Warrant.

"It's a very draconian piece of legislation that was probably drafted fairly quickly back in 2003," Macdonald said. "The German authorities don't have to show a great deal apparently. All they have to show is that he is the individual they want, and they want him for an offence."

Problematic warrants

British legal experts have criticized the European Arrest Warrant as flawed on several fronts, pointing to the lack of trust among EU member states and their judicial systems.

The European Commission has acknowledged the need for improvements since the arrest warrant was first introduced in 2003 - especially since the number of arrests has shot up.

Viviane Reding

Reding says the warrants aren't perfect

"Between the years 2004 and 2008, the number of criminal proceedings in Europe has jumped up 61 per cent," said Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner.

She says one problem is ensuring suspects understand the charges against them which should be read to them in their own language.

"As more people travel, more people also have problems outside. Imagine you are arrested in another member state, you don't know your rights, and you don't know the language, and the current situation is very confusing indeed, because some member states do inform you about those rights, orally, while others give you a letter of rights."

Khurts's lawyers insist he cannot be extradited to Germany from Britain because he traveled without even knowing he was a suspect.

The lawyers accuse the UK foreign office of enticing Khurts to official talks in London, fully aware of the European Arrest Warrant against him.

Author: Nina-Maria Potts, London (mz)
Editor: Rob Turner

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