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Cablegate: Iran: Tajik Extradition - Uk Dithering, May Have Cold Feet

VZCZCXRO3944
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHLO #2474 2731403
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291403Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9929
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002474

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DOJ FOR OIA/CRIMINAL DIVISION E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2018 TAGS: CJAN PINS PREL PTER IR UK

SUBJECT: IRAN: TAJIK EXTRADITION - UK DITHERING, MAY HAVE COLD FEET REF: A. E-MAILS EMBASSY (GAYLE) TO NEA/IR 9/3/08 AND PREVIOUS B. LONDON 2005

Classified By: Classified By: Political Counselor Rick Mills for reason s 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C/NF) Summary: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not formally retreated from its earlier stated intention to extradite ex-Iranian Ambassador Tajik, and says the Tajik file is now on the desk of the Home Secretary for final decision. FCO is noticeably vague, however, on when a decision might be made, and is also being careful to point out the factors which could militate against extradition; HMG may be drifting toward a decision to deny extradition. There may in any case be additional delays in extradition if Tajik is permitted further judicial appeals, this time on medical grounds. End summary.

2. (C) FCO September 25 reiterated to London Iran Watcher (Poloff) that HMG has received all the data it had requested from U.S. Department of Justice on medical matters affecting Tajik's extradition and confirmed the file is with Home Secretary Smith for final decision. FCO Iran Group's Helen Teasdale noted that political upheaval within the Labour party, and the party's recent annual conference, may have been factors delaying Smith's decision, speculation later echoed September 29 in Home Office comments to Embassy London Department of Justice Attache. Home Office also suggested there will, despite past UK and EU court rulings against Tajik, possibly be a fresh round of judicial appeals by Tajik, this time on medical grounds, which may entail additional hearings before one or more UK appellate courts.

Early Promises of Fast UK Action Lie Fallow -------------------------------------------

3. (C/NF) As previously reported, FCO, which in June seemed poised to extradite Tajik immediately, is being increasingly noncommittal on what the HMG decision on extradition will be ("all precedents are being considered") and on when the decision will be taken ("we would be surprised if a decision is not taken before the end of October").

4. (C) Teasdale commented, as previously reported, that due to Iranian officials' anger over the prospective extradition of Tajik, HMG continues to be concerned over the possible threat to UK Embassy personnel in Tehran. Teasdale also added Tajik "is a very sick man," both as to his heart and mental conditions, a point she had not made this strongly before.

Comment -------

5. (C/NF) From FCO's latest comments it seems likely there will be at minimum another month of delay; if October ends without a UK extradition order, we may need to adjust our expectations of Tajik's ultimate fate. Inferring from HMG's slow drift since June into apparent indecision, it now is conceivable HMG, though it has not explicitly retreated from its previous commitment, may in the end opt not to extradite Tajik, previous assurances to USG notwithstanding. As discussed ref b, HMG is unwilling to be less than fully responsive to Tajik's medical arguments and is very concerned about security of UK diplomatic personnel in Tehran.

6. (C) Several Iranian academic and other contacts have commented recently to Poloff that organized (though deniable) street violence against selected political targets is still a viable, important, and even accepted policy tool for many Iranian leaders. Contacts also note few things short of war are more likely to prompt an extreme reaction from hardliners than a (successful) foreign targeting, legal or otherwise, of a member of one of Tehran's inner circle.

7. (C/NF) Finally, as speculated in ref b, HMG may also fear the impact of Tajik's extradition on a bilateral UK-Iran relationship which has strategic equities still in play. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
TUTTLE

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