Where is Lord Black's green Canadian passport?
I read in The Toronto Star that the U.S. prosecutors are worried about Conrad Black being a “flight risk”, and that to ensure he wouldn’t jet off to a nation with no extradition treaty with the USA, Lord Black was forced to surrender his British Passport (which he conveniently brought with him to court on Friday, despite his stated expectation of being cleared of all charges). Here’s the excerpt from the Star:
At a court hearing Friday to discuss bond and bail issues, assistant U.S. attorney Eric Sussman told Judge Amy St. Eve that the government considers Black to be a flight risk since “even in the most conservative estimate” he is facing 15 to 20 years behind bars.
Black has surrendered his British passport and will attend a hearing this Thursday when St. Eve will decide whether he must wait in prison for his Nov. 30 sentencing hearing, or alternatively, whether he can return to Toronto. The judge could order Black to remain in the United States until sentencing four months from now.
If you have been a reader for more than a few weeks, you might recall that our blog (“Winnie Mandela, Snoop Dog and Conrad Black“, June 6-07) pointed out that it is quite possible that, despite forsaking his Canadian Citizenship to take his rightful place in the House of Lords, Mr. Black might still have been able to retain a special green covered passport as a member of the Privy Council of Canada. Red is for our diplomats, Ministers travelling on official government business, etc. Blue is for the general population. Green is in the “special category”, such as Privy Councillors, sitting Members of Parliament, etc.
Naturally, the federal Department of Foreign Affairs can’t confirm (for privacy reasons) if Lord Black still has possession of a valid Green-covered Canadian Passport, but I suspect he still has the right to one, despite his lack of citizenship.
If U.S. Attorney Eric Sussman is truly worried about the flight risk, and not just trying to run up Mr. Black’s bill at the Chicago Ritz-Carleton Hotel, he might want to ask the Judge to seize all passports, not just the U.K. version. I doubt he’ll run; he still has his pride, after all.
I understand that Afganistan, Brunei, Cape Verde, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Maldives and Mauritania (among others) are all candidates for men and women with money to spend and a desire to step outside the reach of the U.S. government’s extradition treaties. Pop star Michael Jackson tried Brunei and seemed to enjoy it for a time. (Not to get off track, but it is odd that U.S. and Canadian soldiers are bravely fighting their way across Afgan poppy fields to keep us free from terrorism – but the U.S. can’t extradite criminals from that nation.)
And, of course, there’s always that quaint holiday destination for eastern Canadians: Cuba! No doubt that Fidel Castro would be a wonderful and engaging dinner companion. Night after night. Just think of the stories, political debates, Cohiba cigars, port and toy soldier battles one could enjoy with that icon of political might.
Lord Black wouldn’t be able to visit the MOMA, the bar at the Breakers or the Smithsonian Institute for a few decades, but at least he’d be closer to the bank accounts that received the wire transfers from those non-compete payments….