Category: Extradition issues

Friday, June 25, 2010

Amanda Knox’s Supporters Obtain Rome Embassy Cables About Knox, Prove Of No Help

Posted by True North


The American Embassy in Rome above, and the State Department in Washington below.

Ninety-nine percent of the reason why countries put embassies in other countries is because they really want to get along.

The US and Italy in fact do get along, extremely well, and there are thousands of transactions between the two countries every day. Thousands of Americans live in Italy, and millions of Americans are of Italian descent.

At the request of the US Administration, the Italian government recently put a large contingent of Italian troops in Afghanistan.

Under the US Freedom of Information Act,  any American citizen can request and usually obtain astonishing amounts of official documentation, far beyond what can usually be extracted from the bureaucracies in most other countries.

Occasionally this information has embarrassed the department concerned, or the party in power in the Congress or the White House. But usually the documents are innocuous and without drama. Conspiracies simply never show up.

The blogger History Punk on his website Historiographic Anarchy has posted some cables (pdf format) from Rome to Washington, which report periodically on the Rome Embassy’s monitoring of Amanda Knox in Capanne Prison and her trial and appeals in Perugia.

As we would expect, these cables are extremely mundane. They were sent by a middle-level official in the consular section of the Rome Embassy to the Italy desk in the State Department.

They report carefully on the careful Italian legal process, and they never remark on anything wrong. No charges or claims or complaints are relayed from Amanda Knox. There is no talk of any anti-Americanism. No instructions, questions or comments are cabled from Washington in return.

One cable was not released. It was marked confidential and the contents are unknown. Here’s a guess at its contents: “Please keep those xenophobic ranters on a chain - they are doing the American cause in Italy no good at all”. 

My first post here on TJMK and proud of it. This is a good fight I join.



Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Italian Judge Ruling Is Tough But Fair In Another Case Involving Americans

Posted by Peter Quennell


We’ve seen no trace of anti-Americanism in the Perugia case, other than restrained reactions by prominent commentators to some strident anti-Italianism from the US.

Typically the two populations get along and like one another, they eagerly buy one another’s products, they visit one another’s countries in droves, and at the political level Italy and the US are very close allies.

So. Does the Italian judiciary perhaps have a covert beef against Americans?

We don’t see that one either. The main Americans that Italian judges see appearing in front of them are students, who seem to have quite a knack there for dropping themselves in it. We don’t post on all those cut-short escapades, but there are several a year reported, and we did post on two that happened in Florence.

All of the student cases are treated humanely, and the American Embassy in Rome is not kept particularly busy lecturing Italians on how to handle each case. Actually because of this case the Embassy keeps a very low profile. 

Judge Oscar Magi (image above) has now issued a 200-page explanation of his mainly-guilty ruling in the CIA kidnapping case. (This document is the equivalent of what we will see within a month on Meredith’s case.) 

Fearless, tough, and seemingly fair. The New York Times impartially reports.

The Italian secret service was most likely aware of, “and perhaps complicit in,” the abduction of an Egyptian cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003, a judge in Milan said Monday. But, he added, state secrecy prevented the court from proving this.

The statement by the judge, Oscar Magi, was part of a 200-page document explaining his reasoning behind the landmark November ruling that convicted 23 Americans, most of them Central Intelligence Agency operatives, of kidnapping the cleric. It was the first case to yield convictions in the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which terrorism suspects are captured in one country and taken to another, where they may be subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

Judge Magi convicted a former C.I.A. base chief and 22 other Americans of kidnapping in the abduction of an Egyptian cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on Feb. 17, 2003. Prosecutors said the cleric was taken from Milan in broad daylight and flown from an American air base in Italy to a base in Germany and then on to Egypt, where Mr. Nasr asserts he was tortured….

Judge Magi acquitted three Americans, citing diplomatic immunity, and two Italians, citing state secrecy. Tried in absentia, the other 23 Americans are considered fugitives and are sought under a European Union arrest warrant. Through their lawyers, they pleaded not guilty….

The Italian government is not expected to request extradition of the Americans, who are not expected to serve jail time. Still, the case marked the first time a judge in an allied country had placed C.I.A. agents on trial.

Judge Magi wrote that in 30 years as a penal judge, he had “very rarely” heard testimony “so precise, attentive and correct regarding such difficult and serious investigations,” adding that he had never seen a penal trial in which events had been reconstructed with such “certainty” and “such a degree of authority.”


Friday, January 08, 2010

A Month Has Passed And Senator Cantwell Still Hasn’t Answered Constituents’ Hard Questions

Posted by Highly-Concerned Washington-State Voters


On December 9, 2009 five well-informed constituents of US Senator Marie Cantwell sent her an Open Letter.

It asked some questions about the reasoning behind her December 4th press release on the verdict in Meredith’s case.

The public release of this letter to Maria Cantwell garnered international attention, and it was quoted-from in various stories and reports published in Europe..

On December 10, a Cantwell Senate-office staff member in Washington DC, John Diamond, provided the one and only direct response to inquiries about it.

Mr Diamond claimed “Our staff has checked every possible in-box and not turned up the letter. We get lots of mail and email sent through to us every day, so I don’t know what the problem was. We now have your letter so it’s a mute point. We will get back to you.”

Rather bizarrely, on December 11th, Mr. Diamond then forwarded to the authors of the Open Letter a Knox/Mellas Family Press Release. It was issued by the paid Seattle PR man David Marriott, and Ms Cantwell’s office seemed to be endorsing it.

The release stated among other things, “We would like to publicly thank Senator Maria Cantwell for her support of Amanda, support of the family, and her continued work on our behalf.” 

No other response has ever been received by the authors of that Open Letter, other than one auto-reply email from Mr. Diamond saying, “I will be out of the office through Labor Day.” (Labor Day is the first Monday in September, then a full nine months away.)

On December 15th the Seattle PI’s Andrea Vogt in her story “The debate continues over Knox’s guilt”  reported that instead of repeating the harsh complaints of her press release, Cantwell’s spokesperson Katharine Lister was now saying this:

“Senator Cantwell believes that Amanda Knox deserved a fair trial, and now deserves a fair appeal by an impartial tribunal; all in keeping with the Council of Europe and the European Union’s treaties to which Italy has long been a signatory. While she certainly understands that the legal system and practice in Italy is different than in the U.S., she believes it is the responsibility of the U.S. government to press for fair treatment for any U.S. citizen facing legal jeopardy overseas. She will continue to press to ensure that Amanda gets a fair appeal, by an impartial tribunal.”

On December 24, 2009 the following new inquiry was sent to Senator Cantwell, reiterating the concerns of the original letter and a desire for a response from Senator Cantwell, and repeating the request to meet with Senator Cantwell herself or a senior member of her staff. 

To this letter Senator Cantwell’s Seattle area constituents are still awaiting her reply more than two weeks later.

Dear Senator Cantwell:

Last December we submitted an Open Letter and had some contact with John Diamond regarding your press release concerning the Amanda Knox guilty verdict in Italy for the murder of Meredith Kercher.  We have yet to receive a response other than an email from Mr. Diamond simply forwarding a press release from the Knox/Mellas Family. Five of your Seattle area constituents authored that Open Letter to question the reasoning behind statements made in your press release.

We did not feel as though we were well represented by that press release and are still awaiting a response to the issues we raised, including a request to meet with your Chief of Staff.  Now that the holiday break is upon us I think it’s a great time to revisit these issues since we haven’t seen any additional press releases from your office and are left wondering if the situation has progressed or if you have adjusted your position on the issue of the Amanda Knox guilty verdict in light of ongoing events and news coverage.

As a recap, here are the key points from your press release and a few of our questions regarding the rationale behind your points:

1. “I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.”

If you are requesting a full briefing on the principles of Italian justice it seems that there are far better places to ask than in what might be construed as a xenophobic press release. To our eye, you seem to be suggesting that anti-Americanism in Italy is a serious ongoing problem and I am wondering what evidence you have to support this perception and, specifically, how it would apply to the Amanda Knox (American) and Raffaele Sollecito (Italian) murder trial.

2. “The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Knox was guilty.”

How can you justify making such a statement?  You seem to be indicating here that you were following the case quite closely, but elsewhere you indicate that you weren’t.  Do you state this as an opinion or as a fact?  I am concerned because Curt Knox and Edda Mellas have been charged with defamation by the Italians for making similar unfounded accusations against the Italian justice system.

3.“Italian jurors were not sequestered and were allowed to view highly negative news coverage about Ms. Knox.”

What special knowledge do you have to make an informed critique of the Italian justice system? Our impression, having closely followed of the murder trial for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, was that the jury behaved honorably and was somewhat restrained and lenient in issuing their ruling. We expect to find some justification for this impression in the lengthy and detailed summary of findings that the court will issue within 90 days of the ruling.

Regarding press coverage, our personal observation is that the media battle waged by the Knox family and David Marriott was, in fact, very effective in highlighting the concerns of the Knox family in outlets around the world, to the extreme point that whatever Curt Knox and Edda Mellas have to say about the murder case is reported verbatim, without question or verification.  We also believe that media coverage during the lengthy trial itself focused heavily on the prospect of an “innocent” Amanda Knox and the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.

4.“Other flaws in the Italian justice system on display in this case included the harsh treatment of Ms. Knox following her arrest; negligent handling of evidence by investigators; and pending charges of misconduct against one of the prosecutors stemming from another murder trial.”

What specific systemic flaws are you referring to here, and in comparison to what system?  We’re wondering what your specific recommendations would be to the Italian Foreign Minister and where you will find the time to research and author them. 

While we’ve seen the claims of harsh treatment and abuse in the media we are unable to verify any of these allegations.  We have noticed, however, that Amanda Knox has been charged with and investigated for making false allegations, and convicted in the instance of accusations made against her former employer Patrick Lumumba. Can you clearly detail any specific incident of harsh treatment Amanda Knox received, either before or following her arrest? 

Can you provide specific examples of the negligent handling of evidence that clearly compromised Amanda Knox’s right to a fair trial? We have followed this case closely from the beginning and while certain investigative elements could have been better handled we are not aware of anything suggesting that the Italians are fundamentally incapable of properly documenting and evaluating a crime scene, or conducting a fully “fair trial” for that matter.

In addition, we would appreciate a detailed description of your understanding of the alleged charges against prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and the relevant connection you are trying to make between that legal proceeding and the Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito murder trial.

In regards to Amanda Knox, Mignini was one of two prosecutors in a case that involved the coordination of a variety of completely separate entities in Italian law enforcement and legal systems.  According to our understanding of Italian legal processes, the charge against Mignini relating to the other murder trial case seems somewhat routine, rather insignificant, and could very well be dismissed later this month.

5.“I will be conveying my concerns to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

What was Secretary Clinton’s response to you?  It has been our understanding that the US State Department and US Embassy in Rome have been following this case from the beginning, have visited Amanda Knox in prison, and have attended court sessions.

We’re wondering what compelled you to insert yourself so publicly into an international situation when your press release gives the strong indication that you were not fully briefed before issuing it and appear to know very little about what has actually been going on with the case.

In the sole interest of providing you with our valid and informed perspective, we remain very interested in meeting with you and/or your Chief of Staff to discuss these issues in detail and share the facts as we understand them.  As your concerned constituents, please us know if this will soon be possible.

[signed by five constituents in the original]


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Our Letter To Senator Maria Cantwell: Please Don’t Take Precipitate Action Till Full Facts Are In

Posted by Highly-Concerned Washington-State Voters


We are all regular voters who live in the Seattle area. We have signed the original of this letter to our US senator, Maria Cantwell, and sent it off to her Capitol office. 

We think we increasingly mirror a very large minority or even a majority of cool-headed but concerned Seattle-area voters who would like to see her speaking up for truth and real justice in this case.

And for the rights of the true victim.

We are not running a campaign. We don’t think Senator Cantwell needs hard persuasion. We think once she immerses herself deeply in the real facts, those facts will tell her the right thing to do.

Dear Senator Cantwell

A number of your well-informed constituents are wondering about your motivations for suddenly injecting yourself into the Meredith Kercher murder trial debate, immediately following last week’s unanimous guilty ruling for American Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy. 

We wonder because you said you were saddened by the verdict and had serious questions about the Italian judicial system and whether anti-Americanism had tainted the trial.  But then you went on to describe how you knew for a fact that the prosecution in the case did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Amanda Knox was guilty. 

We’re confused because it seems to us that if you had been following the case closely enough to be certain that not enough evidence had been presented by the prosecution that you would consequently have a very clear idea of how the Italian judicial system functioned and know whether or not anti-American sentiment had impacted the ruling. 

So, as a group of concerned Seattle area constituents who have been following every detail of this case since poor Meredith Kercher was murdered, we humbly offer you our assistance towards bringing things into proper perspective.

Were you aware that Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian from Giovinazzo, Bari was convicted right alongside Ms. Knox?  Mr. Sollecito received some of the best legal representation available in Italy, including senior lawyer and parliamentary deputy Giulia Bongiorno who won fame as a criminal lawyer when she successfully defended former Italian Premier Giulio Andreotti a few years ago. 

Ms Bongiorno has said nothing about anti-American sentiment having influenced the ruling against her client, nor has she complained about fundamental problems with the way this trial was run.  Instead, she is now completely focused on looking ahead to the appeal process as her next opportunity to mitigate sentences or argue for her client’s innocence. 

This should assuage some of your concerns.

But perhaps you are referring to the extra year Ms. Knox received in comparison to Mr. Sollecito’s 25-year sentence as a clear example of anti-American sentiment?  That’s a fair concern; however, in Italy the jury panel for a trial is required to submit a report within 90 days of a ruling describing in great detail the logic used to convict and sentence, or absolve a defendant. 

For example, in Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher last year Judge Paolo Micheli issued an exhaustive 106 page report outlining the panel’s labored decision-making process, in sometimes excruciating detail.  We can expect no less for the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, and when that report is issued we will have our best look yet at the evidence that was used to convict the pair.

We suggest that you seriously reconsider “bringing” Hillary Clinton and the State Department into the debate.

Consider that State Department spokesman Ian Kelly stated that the US embassy in Rome had been tasked with monitoring the trial and had visited Ms. Knox in jail, and several embassy representatives were known to have attended the reading of the ruling last week. In addition, an American reporter based in Italy who has followed the case from the outset said last night on CNN that the trial had been monitored from the outset.

Secretary Clinton has clearly been very busy with far more critical tasks than to have maintained a personal familiarity with the Kercher murder case; however, Kelly did state that in response to recent press reports Secretary Clinton had taken time to look things over and has yet to find any indication that Knox did not receive a fair trial.  You surely realize that Secretary Clinton will not be interested making public comments regarding an ongoing legal process in a sovereign, democratic nation that is a long-time ally of the United States.

Also note that on the Italian side of the equation, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told his countrymen that he has yet to receive any criticisms of the trial from the office of the US Secretary of State and that the fierce criticism of the case by the Seattle based Amanda Knox support group should not be confused as the position of the US government. 

And Luciano Ghirga, Knox’s own Italian lawyer, has stated that he does not question the validity of the trial and that he believes it was conducted correctly. Furthermore, regarding your desire to have Clinton become involved, Ghirga concluded, “That’s all we need, Hillary Clinton involved”¦this sort of thing does not help us in any way.” 

Perhaps he is referring to the heated discussions in the Italian press these days regarding the strong criticisms of Italy’s legal system coming from a country that supports Guantanamo Bay, the death penalty, and other perceived injustices of a far-from-perfect American legal system.

As these examples demonstrate, and from your own humble constituents’ well-informed perspective, there is nothing out of the ordinary or alarming about the Meredith Kercher murder trial process.  The prosecutors and defense teams will continue to debate the evidence throughout the appeal process, just as we should expect them to. 

If you do decide to go forward with your inquiry, despite significant opposition from your constituents, we recommend that you do so only after becoming more familiar with the evidence presented during the trial, as presented by a neutral source. The family and friends of the US citizen recently convicted are probably not neutral.

If you take a good look, you will see that there are checks and balances in the Italian way of achieving justice, just as there are in the American system. In the final analysis, it is completely as Beatrice Cristiani, deputy judge for the Kercher murder trial, put it: “As far as I am aware our system of justice does not make provision for interference from overseas.”

Fully signed by all of us in the original sent to Senator Maria Cantwell


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

US Overreaction: State Department (Foreign Office) Rebuts Senator Cantwell’s Claims

Posted by Peter Quennell


If Senator Cantwell or her staff come by looking for something to convince them fast please read this.

The same people who set the hapless John Q Kelly up (he has never been heard from again since that post) seem to have set Senator Cantwell up too.

Now Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that her precipitate involvement in the case seems to be hitting a brick wall.

WASHINGTON, USA - The US government said Monday it had no signs that a court in Italy failed to follow the country’s laws when it found American Amanda Knox guilty of the murder of her British housemate.

However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will discuss the verdict with Senator Maria Cantwell, who said it raises ‘serious questions’ about the Italian justice system, Clinton’s spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

‘I don’t have any indications to the contrary,’ Kelly said when asked if Knox was treated fairly under Italian law. ‘We haven’t received any indications necessarily that Italian law was not followed.’

He added: ‘I do know that our embassy in Rome was very closely involved in this. They visited Amanda Knox. They have monitored the trial.’

Kelly said he preferred to limit comment as the legal process continues, recalling that Knox has the right to appeal in 45 days.


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