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July 20, 2006

Linda Coleman's Testimony re: Extradition Treaty

Linda Coleman’s Written Testimony Re: Extradition Treaty

As a U.S. citizen, I am writing to express concern over the
proposed Extradition Treaty with Great Britain and Northern

I have studied the Treaty, have read commentary by Francis Boyle,
and have come to my own conclusion that the Treaty is intended to
silence Irish-Americans and others about the British occupation
of Northern Ireland.

Although I’m not Irish-American, I have studied Irish politics
via the Internet since 1994, and have expressed opinions on Irish
politics on Internet bulletin boards under my real name. I have
also served as an International Observer in Northern Ireland and
was involved with a group called Save the Good Friday Agreement
Coalition, which wrote letters in support of the Agreement to our
local newspapers, our elected representatives in the House and
Senate, and to Prime Minister Blair.

When the Dallas Morning News published one of my letters about my
experience as an International Observer, a pro-British loyalist
from Belfast sent a letter to the editor implying that I was
involved with “terrorists.” When my family and I signed an
online petition in support of the Good Friday Agreement, our
names were added to a list published by a loyalist website called
“Know the Provo,” implying that everyone who signed the petition
was a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, or

Under the proposed Treaty, such accusations would be enough to
extradite a U.S. citizen to England, because England has much
lower standards for “probable cause” than we do in the United
States. Many, many people in Northern Ireland have been rounded
up in “sweeps” and imprisoned for years on nothing more than
suspicion of IRA activity. In one famous case, depicted in the
film “In the Name of the Father,” four innocent people were
sentenced to life in prison for an IRA bombing, without a shred
of “probable cause.” When I was in Belfast, I talked to people
who aren’t famous, just ordinary citizens, detained by police in
random sweeps. One man I spoke with described being detained and
brutally interrogated for seven days—he had the same last name as
the person they were looking for, but was not related to the
suspect, and had nothing to do with the offense in question.
Now, this man has it on his record that he was “detained for
suspicion of IRA activity.” There are people like him living in
the U.S. today, who have come to our country to start their lives
over. They become U.S. citizens, and productive, valuable
members of society. Under this proposed Treaty, these people
could be requested to face the same false charges as before; if I
were to protest their extradition in letters to editors, to the
Senate, or to Prime Minister Blair, the British government could
come for me, too.

As U.S. citizens, members of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee cannot in good conscience approve this Treaty for
ratification. Our own Declaration of Independence censures the
British monarchy “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit
of Trial by Jury” and “For transporting us beyond Seas to be
tried for pretended offences.” Since the proposed Treaty has no
political exception clause, applies retroactively, has no statute
of limitations, and eliminates the need for the United Kingdom to
produce any facts about the person being requested, this Treaty
could be easily misused to persecute Irish-Americans and others
campaigning against the British occupation of Northern Ireland.

I urge you to vote no on this proposed Treaty.

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