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No extradition for Irishman accused of selling North Korean forged dollars

Ireland's High Court ruled against extraditing former Irish political party leader Seán Garland to the US, where he has been indicted for circulating North Korean forgeries of $100 bills.

By Correspondent / December 21, 2011

Dublin, Ireland

It should have been Ireland's trial of the century: The elderly leader of a communist breakaway group from the IRA, whose former party comrades are now in government, sat accused by the US State Department of distributing “superdollars” – perfect forgeries of US dollars – printed by the North Korean government to underwrite the dictatorship's failing economy, and, in some of the more thriller-like reports, to undermine the US economy at the same time.

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And yet, other than the initial allegations, the long-running extradition battle barely registered in the press in Ireland or abroad.   This morning, it drew to a close as Ireland's High Court ruled against extraditing former Irish political party leader Seán Garland to the United States to face charges of distributing counterfeit dollars allegedly printed by North Korea.

Speaking at a hearing this morning, Justice John Edwards said the court would not grant the application and will furnish the reasons for doing so on Jan. 13. The decision had originally been due in October, after the hearing adjourned in July.

Mr. Garland was indicted by the US for circulating North Korean forgeries of American $100 bills in the 1990s in cooperation with the Russian Communist Party and British criminal contacts.  Garland denies the charges, and claims the American government wants to put him in Guantánamo Bay or, at the very least, a "Supermax" prison from which he will never see daylight again.

Garland was first arrested on the charges in Northern Ireland in 2005, but while awaiting extradition, he jumped bail and fled to the Republic of Ireland, where he lives.  He was rearrested by Irish authorities in 2009.

The Rev. Chris Hudson, chair of the Stop the Extradition of Seán Garland campaign, today issued a statement supporting the judgment.

“This has been a horrendous six-year ordeal for Seán, his family, and friends,” said Mr. Hudson, “and I am delighted with the progress we have made today. I have always believed that the US extradition demand was a vindictive act by the former Bush administration designed to punish and isolate North Korea and anyone who had connections with that country.”

Speaking to The Christian Science Monitor in July, Mick Finngean, the current president of the Workers' Party, said the allegations against Garland were absurd and politically motivated, and the US justice system was too slanted. “There’s no way Seán Garland, given his opposition to [US foreign policy] and political beliefs, would get a fair trial,” he said. “The most right-wing fanatics have already presumed him guilty.”


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