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article imageOp-Ed: The US double standard — Snowden versus Lady and Carriles

By Ken Hanly     Jul 20, 2013 in Politics
Panama City - The US double standard is right before everyone's eyes but no doubt few will even notice. Panama has released Robert Seldon Lady and he has flown back to the US.
Lady was convicted in absentia in Italy for his part in kidnapping a Muslim cleric in Milan and rendering him to jail in Egypt where the cleric claims he was tortured during interrogation. Lady was sentenced to up to nine years in prison for his role in the rendition. Now after Italian authorities manage to have him arrested in Panama the US probably intervened to have him sent to the US instead.
During Lady's trial, the US refused to cooperate with Italian authorities who had to sentence all 23 Americans convicted in absentia in 2009. The verdict against Lady was upheld by Italy's top court in 2012.
Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, claimed to have no details on whether Lady would be questioned by US authorities, or whether the US would cooperate with Italy on the case. This is ludicrous. If the US were interested in cooperating with Italy on the case they would have sent him to the trial in the first place. If the US were interested in cooperating with Italy they would now allow him to be extradited to Italy rather than flying him to the US.
Panamanian officials claim that Lady had been detained at a border crossing with Costa Rica pending an extradition request from Italy. He was let go on the grounds that Panama does not have an extradition treaty with Italy and the documentation sent by Italian officials was "insufficient". It was insufficient, I expect, to counteract a request by the US for him to be sent back home. Italy expressed disappointment at the developments and said that it had taken all the proper diplomatic steps to initiate an extradition process.
Panama has experience with what happens when you displease the US. In 1989 the US invaded Panama and seized Manuel Noriega then head of the government. They whisked him off to the US where he was tried on drug charges and found guilty. Noriega was a product of US military training: He also received intelligence and counterintelligence training at the School of the Americas at the U.S. Army's Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone in 1967, as well as a course in psychological operations (psyops) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
While Noriega worked faithfully for the CIA for many years, his drug dealings and his turn against the US did him in and led to his downfall: Although the relationship did not become contractual until 1967, Noriega worked with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from the late 1950s until the 1980s.
Helping the US do dirty deeds is fine and even terrorists will be shielded from extradition if the US finds it politically expedient to do so, This is the case with the ant-Cuban activist from Venezuela Luis Carriles. Again Panama had an involvement in that Carriles was convicted in absentia in Panama of involvement in several terrorist plots including involvement in the bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Although he claims to be innocent of the airline bombing charge, he has admitted to involvement in bombings that targeted fashionable Cuban hotels and nightspots as well as being involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Iran-Contra affair.
Venezuela and Cuba asked for his extradition but US courts barred this due to fears that Carriles might be tortured in either country. Carriles was eventually tried in Texas but not for his terrorist activity but for lying to immigration officials when he requested asylum. He was acquitted of these charges by a jury on April 8, 2011 and lives still in Miami where he is considered a hero among some in the anti-Castro exile community. See the appended video for details.
While an admitted terrorist can live in retirement without worries about being extradited, Snowden is hounded at every juncture and those countries who refused to hand him over such as China are threatened with dire consequences. Even the Bolivian presidential plane is forced to land and be searched because the US thinks that Snowden might be on board. These cases demonstrate US double standards on steroids.
Contrast the US treatment of two convicted criminals with their attitude to Snowden who has not been tried or convicted of anything and whose main crime is to reveal classified material that shows NSA surveillance is likely illegal and unconstitutional.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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