Vancouver man charged in Silk Road drug conspiracy

A Vancouver man has just been charged with conspiracy to sell drugs on the dark web site called the Silk Road. Interestingly, James Ellingson, 42, communicated with Silk Road owner Ross Ulbricbht using the handle “redandwhite” which is usually a reference to the Hells Angels.

 Ross Ulbricht's (Founder of Silk Road) lap top on Exhibit In Newseum in D.C. 

Ross Ulbricht's (Founder of Silk Road) lap top on Exhibit In Newseum in D.C. 

A Vancouver man is wanted in the U.S for allegedly selling methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and other drugs through the notorious dark-web exchange known as the Silk Road.

James Ellingson, 42, was arrested Oct. 29 in Vancouver on charges of conspiracy to violate U.S. narcotics laws, conspiracy to import narcotics and conspiracy to money-launder between 2011 and 2013. Evidence gathered against Ellingson stemmed from the U.S. investigation into Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht, according to a recent B.C. Supreme Court bail ruling in the case.

Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten released Ellingson on bail earlier this month despite a U.S. request that he be held in custody. Ellingson, who has a criminal record on this side of the border, allegedly made $2 million using the dark web to sell his wares.

Ulbricht was arrested in October 2013, convicted in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison. After his arrest, the FBI seized various servers associated with Silk Road in Iceland, as well as backup servers in the U.S. The servers contained databases with Silk Road records showing various transactions, as well as private messages exchanged between Silk Road users, according to a U.S. affidavit quoted by DeWitt-Van Oosten in her Nov. 2 ruling.

The U.S. alleges Ellingson was using the online handle “Marijuanaismymuse” and was paid for his drug sales by Ulbricht using Bitcoin. Transactions for the Marijuanaismymuse account occurred between November 2011 and October 2013 and involved sales of meth, heroin, cocaine, LSD, MDMA and pot.

“U.S. authorities have gathered evidence that they say links James Ellingson to Marijuanaismymuse,” the B.C. judge said. “Some of the drug proceeds sent to Marijuanaismymuse were subsequently traced to two Bitcoin exchange accounts registered to Mr. Ellingson.” One of the accounts was opened in August 2013 under Ellingson’s name, using his email and provided his driver’s licence number and a utility bill. The other account was opened in May 2013, also using his name, identification and a Vancouver address.

“U.S. authorities obtained records from Google relating to Mr. Ellingson’s Gmail account. These records contained an email dated Sept. 23, 2013, with a username of Marijuanaismymuse and what appears to be a password to the Marijuanaismymuse Silk Road account,” the ruling said. “The Gmail records also contained notations of drug weights, names and prices consistent with server data from the Silk Road.”

The U.S. alleges Ellingson communicated with Ulbricht and received his Bitcoin payments under the username Redandwhite. A laptop recovered from Ulbricht contained a file labelled “save red” that contained photos referenced in his communications with Redandwhite. The photos showed “packaged drugs and Canadian currency.” And some showed a man in front of a building that the U.S. alleged looks like the picture on Ellingson’s driver’s licence.

DeWitt-Van Oosten said the U.S. is still putting together its package of evidence to support its extradition request for Ellingson. She said she had “relatively limited information about the nature of the offences with which Mr. Ellingson is charged and/or the evidence gathered in support.”

DeWitt-Van Oosten noted that Ellingson had “a criminal record that includes three convictions for possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking, and one conviction for trafficking.” And he has been convicted of criminal harassment, possession of a prohibited or restricted weapon, assault and other crimes.

But she accepted his lawyer’s submission that the crimes were committed a long time ago, while he was suffering from addiction. She said Ellingson could be released on strict conditions because he had a supportive family willing to offer a $75,000 surety and a job.

“I appreciate that Mr. Ellingson has been charged with serious offences and, if extradited and convicted, he faces a lengthy period of imprisonment. I also appreciate that he has a criminal record for drug-trafficking,” DeWitt-Van Oosten said. “However, in consideration of the circumstances, as a whole, I am satisfied he has shown his detention in custody pending the extradition process is not justified.”

Leader of International Cyber Fraud Ring Returned to United States to Face Federal Racketeering Charges

A Romanian national was returned to the United States Friday to face federal charges that accuse him of being the leader of an international cyber fraud ring that used malware to steal in excess of four million dollars after taking people’s passwords, personal identifying information, and bank account information.

 Romeo Chita (Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department)

Romeo Chita (Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department)

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio, Peter Elliot of the U.S. Marshals Service, Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI and Chief Kevin Bielozer of the Westlake Police Department made the announcement.

Romeo Vasile Chita, 38, was charged in a four-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Ohio. The charges include racketeering, wire fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit services.

Eight other defendants were named in the indictment unsealed today.  Two defendants—Daniel Mihai Radu, 39; and Manuel Tudor, 37, —have already been extradited from Romania and are awaiting trial in Cleveland. The other five defendants remain at large.

“Romeo Vasile Chita allegedly led a multinational criminal enterprise that stole sensitive personal data through deceptive phishing emails and organized fraudulent online auctions, causing millions of dollars in losses to innocent victims,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “The Criminal Division will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, both domestic and international, to aggressively disrupt and dismantle international cyber criminal organizations that victimize our citizens and businesses.”

“This defendant led an international operation that used fraudulent emails and the internet to scam hard-working people out of their savings,” said U.S. Attorney Herdman.  “It is gratifying that this defendant will be forced to answer the charges filed against him.”

According to the indictment, Chita was based in Romania and led a racketeering enterprise that operated in the United States, Romania, Canada, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Bosnia, China, Jordan, Malaysia and elsewhere. The goal of the enterprise was to generate money through various criminal acts, including wire fraud, trafficking in counterfeit services, and money laundering.  It began operating as early as 2007.

Among other things, Chita’s group sent “phishing” emails purporting to be from the Better Business Bureau, the IRS, U.S. Tax Court, the National Payroll Records Center, and others. When a victim clicked on a link in a fraudulent email, specialized malware incorporating a “keylogger” was installed onto the victims’ computers, allowing members of the criminal enterprise to capture sensitive and confidential information, including the victims’ bank account information.

The conspirators, including Chita, then transmitted the sensitive information to each other and others for the purpose of fraudulently withdrawing funds from the victims’ bank accounts. The stolen funds were then transferred to specific accounts in the United States, where the money was withdrawn and transferred to other members of the conspiracy. The conspirators used their own network of accounts and “money mules” to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time to conceal the origin of the money.

The defendants also are alleged to have engaged in an extensive campaign of online auction fraud, placing ads for non-existent cars and other expensive items on eBay, Craigslist, Autotrader.com, and other websites.  According to the indictment, victims were tricked into wiring thousands of dollars to money mules to purchase these vehicles.  The money mules then transferred and laundered the proceeds for the benefit of the enterprise.    

Chita managed and facilitated the various schemes, as well as directing other conspirators to launder fraudulently obtained money.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, the Westlake Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel Brian L. Levine of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Duncan Brown of the Northern District of Ohio.  Valuable assistance is being provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.  The Justice Department thanks the government of Romania for its assistance in this matter.

The prosecution of Chita is timely, as it occurs during National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM).  NCSAM – observed every October – was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure all Americans have the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online.  The Department of Justice encourages citizens to take advantage of cybersecurity tips and information provided by law enforcement to ensure their personal information is secured.

U.S. says China spy charged with trying to steal aviation secrets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday it had arrested and indicted a spy for China’s Ministry of State Security on charges of economic espionage and attempting to steal trade secrets from several U.S. aviation and aerospace companies.

  Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative, Yanjun Xu, aka Qu Hui, aka Zhang Hui

Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative, Yanjun Xu, aka Qu Hui, aka Zhang Hui

Chinese operative Xu Yanjun was detained in Belgium in April after a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe and extradited to the United States on Tuesday. The Washington Post reported he was lured to Belgium by U.S. agents.

The FBI called it an unprecedented extradition and said the indictment showed the direct oversight of China’s government in economic espionage against the United States.The charges come as Washington increases pressure on Beijing over its trade policies and alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property.

Cyber-security experts said the arrest was another sign of the escalating trade tensions between the two countries, adding they had seen increasing espionage by Beijing for business advantage. “China is actively engaging in targeted and persistent intrusion attempts against multiple sectors of the economy, including biotech, defense, mining, pharmaceutical, professional services, transportation and more,” said CrowdStrike Chief Technology Officer Dmitri Alperovitch.

A U.S. Department of Justice statement said Xu, a deputy division director for the State Security Department of China’s Jiangsu province, targeted several U.S. aerospace companies, including GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric Co (GE.N).

It described another unnamed firm as “one of the world’s largest aerospace firms, and a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems,” and a third as a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology.

GE Aviation has supplied engines for large Boeing Co (BA.N) and Airbus SE (AIR.PA) aircraft, and is working on a new generation of engines for commercial planes and heavy-lift military helicopters.

The indictment against Xu said he targeted aviation firms since around December 2013. It also said he made contact with experts working for the firms and recruited them to travel to China, often for the initial purpose of delivering a university presentation and paying their costs and a stipend.

“This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government’s direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States,” the statement quoted Bill Priestap, the FBI’s assistant director for counterintelligence, as saying.

John Demers, the assistant U.S. attorney general for national security, said the case was not an isolated incident.

“It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense,” he said. “We cannot tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang called the accusations a “pure fabrication”.

“We hope the American side can justly, and in accordance with the law, safeguard the legal rights of the Chinese national,” Lu told a regular news briefing on Thursday.

Xu’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The maximum penalty for conspiracy and attempt to commit economic espionage is 15 years, while that for conspiracy and attempt to steal trade secrets is 10 years.

The Ministry of State Security is China’s intelligence and security agency and is responsible for counterintelligence, foreign intelligence and political security.

Cyber-security experts said former U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping had reached an understanding in 2015 on cyber espionage, but the agreement appeared be withering away.

Chris Painter, the former U.S. State Department official who negotiated the agreement, said in a Twitter post it was “not surprising that now the relationship has deteriorated, so has the agreement.”

Late last month, the Department of Justice reported the arrest of a Chinese citizen in Chicago on charges he covertly worked for a high-ranking Chinese intelligence official to help try to recruit engineers and scientists, including some who worked as U.S. defense contractors.

NBC News on Tuesday quoted U.S. officials as saying a professor at a top cancer research center in Houston facing child pornography charges was also under scrutiny for alleged economic espionage for China.

In a first, a Chinese spy is extradited to the U.S. after stealing technology secrets, Justice Dept. says

In a first, federal agents lured a Chinese government spy to Belgium, where authorities transferred him this week to the United States for prosecution on economic espionage charges, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

 Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative, Yanjun Xu, aka Qu Hui, aka Zhang Hui

Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative, Yanjun Xu, aka Qu Hui, aka Zhang Hui

Yanjun Xu, a senior officer with China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), is accused of seeking to steal trade secrets from leading aviation firms, top Justice Department officials said. His capture helps vindicate law enforcement officials who have faced criticism in recent years that indictments of foreign operatives are unlikely to result in the defendants setting foot in a courtroom.

Current and former officials said Xu’s extradition is apparently the first time a Chinese government spy has been brought to the United States to face charges.

The announcement comes as the Trump administration has significantly escalated its rhetoric against China amid a trade war and general worsening of relations between the world powers. Last week Vice President Pence accused Chinese security agencies of masterminding the “wholesale theft of American technology.”

Justice Department officials said the indictment is the latest example of China seeking to develop its economy at the expense of American firms and know-how. Though China has often used computer hacking to filch secrets, this case relied on traditional espionage techniques, including the attempted recruitment of corporate insiders.

“No one begrudges a nation that generates the most innovative ideas and from them develops the best technology,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said. “But we cannot tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower. We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow.”

Xu, also known as Qu Hui and Zhang Hui, was charged with conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and steal trade secrets from multiple U.S. aviation and aerospace companies. The indictment and complaint were unsealed Wednesday — the same day Xu appeared in federal court in Cincinnati.

“This case shows that federal law enforcement agencies cannot only detect and disrupt espionage, but can also catch its perpetrators,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Benjamin C. Glassman.

The MSS is a civilian spy agency responsible for counterintelligence, foreign intelligence and domestic political security. It was implicated in the hack of a U.S. Navy contractor developing undersea warfare capabilities, including secret plans to build a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020.

Xu is a deputy division director with the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, a provincial arm of the MSS.

“If not the first, this is an exceptionally rare achievement — that you’re able to catch an espionage operative and have them extradited to the United States,” said John Carlin, a former assistant attorney general for national security. “It significantly raises the stakes for China and is a part of the deterrence program that some people thought would never be possible.”

Beginning in December 2013 and continuing until his April 1 arrest in Belgium, Xu targeted experts working for aeronautics companies inside and outside the United States, including Cincinnati-based GE Aviation, officials said. GE Aviation has spent decades developing its unique jet engines and fan blades.

Xu recruited experts to travel to China, often under the guise of asking them to deliver a university presentation and passing himself off as an official with the Jiangsu Science and Technology Promotion Association.

Xu often exchanged information with individuals at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, one of the top engineering schools in China, which has significant influence over the country’s aerospace industry, according to court documents.

GE Aviation cooperated with the FBI early on in the investigation, which dates back more than a year, officials said. A spokesman for GE said Xu targeted a former employee, characterizing the impact as minimal “thanks to early detection.”

According to the indictment, in March 2017 a deputy director at the university, described as an unindicted co-conspirator, began emailing with an engineer at GE Aviation and asked him to come to China for an “exchange.” In May and June of 2017, the engineer went to China, met Xu, who claimed to be from the science and technology association. The engineer put five corporate documents on his personal laptop, which he brought to the presentation, according to WCPO, an ABC News affiliate in Cincinnati, citing an FBI affidavit for a search warrant in the case.

In February, Xu began discussing with the engineer the possibility of meeting in Europe during one of the engineer’s business trips, the indictment said. Xu asked the engineer to create a directory of files on his work computer and send a copy to him. Impressed, Xu in March asked the engineer if it was possible to “dump” the material from his laptop to a thumb drive when the two met in Belgium, the indictment said.

Belgian authorities cooperated with the investigation, U.S. officials said.

Xu’s case is linked to the arrest last month of Ji Chaoqun, 27, a Chinese citizen living in Chicago, according to individuals familiar with the matter. Ji was accused of passing information on eight Americans to Chinese intelligence officers for possible recruitment.

Ji targeted individuals in science and tech industries, seven of whom worked for or recently retired from U.S. defense contractors. All were naturalized U.S. citizens born in Taiwan or China.

Ji arrived in the United States in 2013 to study electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and in 2016 enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve under a special program to recruit foreigners whose skills are seen as vital to the national interest.

Greece to extradite Russian hacker and BTC-e founder Alexander Vinnik to the United States

The Supreme Court of Greece has decided to uphold the decision on extradition of Russian Alexander Vinnik to the United States, where he will be judged for multi-million dollar fraud with crypto currency and money laundering.

  Alexander Vinnik

Alexander Vinnik

Alexander Vinnik was detained in Greece at the request of the US special services on July 26, 2017. The Russian has been accused of laundering of at least $4 billion since 2011 through the BTC-e site created by him, as well as the hacking of the Japanese exchange Mt. Gox. In the case of extradition in the US, the hacker faces up to 55 years in prison and a fine of $15 million.

Russia requires Vinnik to be extradited to his homeland. Here he faces less severe punishment. In Russia, Vinnik was accused of fraud on an especially large scale (part 3 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code). According to the investigation, Vinnik concluded a contract with one of the commercial firms to supply of equipment and disappeared after receiving 600 thousand rubles ($10.200) in advance.

The decision to extradite the Russian citizen to the US was taken by a court in Thessaloniki in October. Later, the council of judges of the Greek city also approved the request of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office for the extradition of Alexander Vinnik. In this regard, the case was referred to the Supreme Court to bring a final verdict.

China, US court rulings show judicial trust: experts

Politics posing a challenge to judicial cooperation: expert

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The "unprecedented" move of China and the US to acknowledge and accept each other's court decisions reflects a great deal of judicial trust, Chinese experts said.

The US District Court for the Central District of California on Friday accepted the Suzhou Intermediate People's Court's decision on the case of Qiu Qinrong and Zhang Hongying for defaulting on loans, after which Qiu filed a lawsuit before the US court when he discovered that the couple and their son, who lives in California, allegedly transferred money illegally. 

"The evidence the plaintiff submitted demonstrates the Chinese court granted a monetary recovery and that the judgment is final, conclusive, and enforceable. The plaintiff has also demonstrated that the Chinese court was an impartial tribunal that had subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction over Zhang and X (Zhang's wife)," reads the US court's decision.

In June, the Wuhan Intermediate People's Court in Central China's Hubei Province recognized and enforced a US court's decision on commercial cases, which marks the first time China acknowledged a US court's decision on commercial cases, China National Radio reported. 

These two cases reflect a positive trend in judicial trust between China and the US, and that Chinese legal attitudes toward US court rulings are changing, Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the China Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies told the Global Times.

China has always tried to improve relations and cooperation with the US. It used to be limited to economic and trade cooperation, but may cover the judicial system in the near future, Liu said, adding that since the two countries have increased exchanges, they need to reach a certain level of consensus on law enforcement. 

Established in 1998, the China-US Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation (JLG) is a major mechanism and platform for the two sides to coordinate and communicate on law enforcement cooperation.

The seven working groups under the JLG are for anti-cyber crimes, anti-corruption, criminal judicial assistance, IPR criminal enforcement, arresting criminals, deporting illegal immigrants and cracking down on illegal immigration, and a subgroup for drug control.

Sensitive issues

Aside from progress on civil cases, China and the US are also cooperating on criminal cases and in the search for criminals, Huang Feng, head of Beijing Normal University's Institute for International Criminal Law, told the Global Times.

The US is a major destination for corrupt Chinese officials and economic fugitives, but through the JLG, China has worked closely with the US to apprehend and have them extradited. Some on the Interpol "most wanted" list have been returned to China.

However, Liu said that extraditing fugitives from the US might be difficult in practice as China has no extradition treaty with the US. "The issue of fugitives may involve a lot of sensitive issues, such as international relations. And it's hard to put aside politics on matters involving international judicial cooperation," Liu said.

Chinese police repatriate 4th U.S. fugitive this year

(ECNS) -- Chinese police have repatriated an American fugitive to the U.S. at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, the fourth such fugitive this year.

  A Chinese police officer hands over a U.S. fugitive's personal belongs to the U.S. police. (File photo/China News Service)

A Chinese police officer hands over a U.S. fugitive's personal belongs to the U.S. police. (File photo/China News Service)

The fugitive was wanted by the U.S. police for suspected theft of vehicles. He entered China via Shanghai in 2009 and worked at an English training institution.

Receiving a U.S. repatriation call in August, Chinese police launched an investigation and detained the suspect on Sept. 15.

Representatives of Shanghai Police and the U.S. consulate general in Shanghai witnessed the hand-over procedure.

The repatriation was the latest result of Sino-U.S. cooperation in chasing fugitives.

During U.S. President Donald Trump's state visit to the country this month, China and the U.S. reached consensus on cooperation in law enforcement and cybersecurity, reiterating that the two sides would promote "the adoption of simplified means to repatriate suspects" to prevent "safe havens" for fugitives from both countries.

U.S. police also repatriated two fugitives to China this year.

More fugitives are persuaded to surrender from overseas as China strengthens international anti-graft cooperation

○ The recent return of Kong Guangsheng, one of Interpol's 100 most wanted Chinese fugitives, marks a big step forward in China's anti-corruption campaign.

○ There is now more cooperation between China and foreign countries in tracking down overseas Chinese lawbreakers.

  Liu Changkai, one of China's most wanted fugitives, returns to the Chinese mainland to turn himself in to police.  Photo: VCG

Liu Changkai, one of China's most wanted fugitives, returns to the Chinese mainland to turn himself in to police. Photo: VCG

Kong Guangsheng, one of China's most wanted fugitives, returned to the Chinese mainland and turned himself in to the police last Thursday, according to the anti-corruption authority.

A former general manager of Shengli Oilfield Qingdao Petroleum Industrial Co. Ltd., Kong was suspected of embezzlement and fled to Hong Kong in 2012, according to a statement released by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

Kong is the 48th to return from a Red Notice list of 100 fugitives wanted by China issued by the Interpol in April 2015. 

Over the past few years, Chinese authorities have been expanding their anti-corruption campaign overseas.

In July 2014, the Ministry of Public Security launched its "Fox Hunt" operation, a major part of the "Sky Net" campaign targeting fugitives abroad who are wanted for corruption or economic crimes. The operation has been jointly conducted by various departments, including the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the People's Bank of China.

In April of 2015, the Interpol National Central Bureau for China released red notices for the 100 most wanted Chinese fugitives abroad, including 40 thought to be hiding in the US, 26 in Canada and 10 in Australia.

As of this month, the Sky Net operation has tracked down over 3,000 fugitives from 90 countries, recovered more than 9 billion yuan ($1.36 billion) of booty and captured 48 out of 100 individuals on the red notice list. Of them all, the most infamous was Yang Xiuzhu, number one on the red notice. 

Yang was the former vice mayor of Wenzhou, an industrial city in East China's Zhejiang Province who escaped China with approximately 19 million yuan in embezzled funds along with 7 million yuan in bribes. The woman had sworn that she'd "die in America," but on November 16, 2016, she turned herself in. She was sentenced to eight years imprisonment last Friday. 

Her case is said to be a perfect demonstration of how much effort Chinese authorities have invested in the operation. 

Tang Renwu, dean of the School of Governance of Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times that the stricter measures are a good way to deter any future occurrences of graft or corruption. 

"Domestic corrupt officials who might have thought about escaping will not dare do it now, after seeing such tight measures and cooperation with a wide range of countries. They should know now that no matter where they escape to, there's no hiding place," he said.
 

  Yang Xiuzhu, number one on the red notice list, is sentenced to eight years in jail.  Photo: VCG

Yang Xiuzhu, number one on the red notice list, is sentenced to eight years in jail. Photo: VCG

Persuasion works best

According to the CCDI website, there are four ways China cooperates with foreign countries to recover fugitives: extradition, repatriation, off-site prosecution and persuasion for them to voluntarily return. The last measure is a new method by Chinese authorities and it has proven highly effective. In fact, most of the recovered fugitives on the red notice came back with this method. 

"This is useful because China does not have extradition treaties with some Western countries. On the policy level there can be cooperation, but there can also be unofficial ways, such as persuasion," Tang said.

When, for example, a fugitive is having a hard time abroad due to being cut off from the world, if they are approached by their family they become vulnerable and more likely to have an epiphany about surrendering.

According to CCDI, Yang Lihu, the corporate representative of Anhui Tairui Medicine suspected of issuing fake VAT invoices, was the first Chinese fugitive successfully persuaded to come back from a Western country. 

With his ill-gotten gains, Yang expected to live the good life after fleeing to Canada, but he quickly found himself isolated. He could not speak any English, dared not visit a doctor for his ailments and was cut off from his family, according to CCDI.

Living in constant fear of being caught by the police and having learned about China's anti-corruption campaign abroad, in 2015 Yang finally turned himself in.

Overseas cooperation

Huang Feng, a professor at the Beijing Normal University, told Nanfang Daily that most of the G20 members are economically more developed and have better natural environment, which is attractive from the angle of immigration. Countries such as US, Canada and Australia have relatively relaxed immigration policies, which explains why 76 out of the 100 red notice members escaped to G20 member countries, namely US, Australia and Canada.  

In remarks by Huang Shuxian, China's former minister of supervision, at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London in May of 2016, China is a member of 15 global and regional anti-corruption cooperation mechanisms.

China championed the adoption of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption, the establishment of the APEC Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies and the G20 Denial of Entry Experts' Network, and pushed for the establishment of a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) mechanism for anti-corruption cooperation. 

China now has anti-corruption cooperation with 89 countries and regions, has concluded 44 extradition treaties and 57 treaties on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and has signed financial information exchange agreements with 35 countries and regions.

China also maintains close communication and cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the International Anti-Corruption Academy, Interpol, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and other organizations.

Chinese authorities have recently started involving foreign communities in its anti-corruption operations. In April, they released information for the first time on 22 suspects who fled overseas, including their possible current whereabouts, Xinhua reported.

The information included the suspect's name, gender, ID card number, former title, suspected crime, date of arrival in the current country and travel document number, according to a statement from an office in charge of fugitive repatriation and asset recovery under the Central Anti-corruption Coordination Group. Their whereabouts were as specific as the streets where the fugitives were believed to be living.

"We hope overseas Chinese, foreign citizens of Chinese origin and international friends will help identify these fugitives … and give them no place to hide," said the statement. It also said the public can report relevant information to Chinese authorities via an official website. 

Despite such tight measures and close cooperation, Tang said recovering booty is still a challenge, even more so than capturing the suspects themselves. As overseas fugitives usually use multiple channels, both legal and illegal, to divert their ill-gotten assets overseas (and often under another person's name, such as distant family members), finding their stash is not unlike hunting for lost treasure.

But overall, he believes China has achieved a periodic victory in its anti-corruption campaign, as the measures tighten, China and the international community are coming to a consensus on the issue. 

Casting a sky net

Operation Sky Net is an anti-graft campaign launched by Chinese authorities in a bid to capture corrupt officials who have fled abroad. 

There are four ways to recover fugitives: 

▶ Extradition: foreign countries send fugitives that China accuses as criminals or has already sentenced back for trial or to serve sentences.  

▶ Repatriation: China provides leads to countries fugitives are in to request any foreigners without legal status be sent back.

▶ Off-site prosecution: China provides evidence and requests the foreign countries to prosecute the fugitives according to their laws. 

▶ Persuasion to return: By educating and persuading the fugitives, help them turn themselves in back to China.

There are five ways to recover booty:

▶ With the aid of mutual assistance in criminal justice or extradition treaty

▶ Use local Criminal Assets Recovery Act of the country the suspect is in or any other domestic laws to retreat the booty

▶ By an overseas civil suit   

▶ Using criminal policy to urge suspects or their relatives to voluntarily give up booty  

▶ Go through forfeiture proceedings in Criminal Law

Sentenced to 25 years in US.prison,but released after just 5 years because of a treaty transfer....

On February 26, 2009, an Iraqi-born Dutch citizen, Wesam Al Delaema, was charged with participating in a conspiracy to attack Americans based in Iraq.

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The criminal complaint was filed at U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on July 27, 2008.  Al Delaema, a/k/a Wesam Khalaf Chayed Delaema, was charged on four counts:  conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens abroad; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives); possession of a destructive device (explosives) during a crime of violence; and conspiracy to possess a destructive device (explosives) during a crime of violence. (1)

Al Delaema, 32, was born in Fallujah, Iraq.  He was arrested by Dutch law enforcement authorities on May 2, 2005 and was facing similar charges in that country.  The United States informed the Dutch authorities of its intention to request his extradition to face the charges filed in the U.S.

On September 22, 2008, Dutch authorities announced that Al Delaema had been transferred into extradition custody in response to the request from the United States.

Al Delaema pled guilty in Federal Court in Washington, D.C. on February 26, 2009, and was sentenced to 300 months in Federal prison.

 On March 29, 2010, Wesam Al Delaema BOP Register Number 28879-016 was successfully treaty transferred back to the Netherlands. (2)

Dutch grant release to man who plotted to kill Americans in Iraq

By Ellen Nakashima        Thursday, October 14, 2010

The United States denounced a Dutch court's decision Wednesday to grant an early release to a Dutch citizen who had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to kill Americans in Iraq.

"We are extremely disappointed in the Rotterdam District Court's decision to release Wesam al-Delaema from prison after serving less than six years, and rejecting the 16-year prison term recommended by Dutch prosecutors," Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said.

Delaema was convicted by a U.S. court, then transferred to Dutch custody. He agreed to accept a 25-year sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

It was unclear whether Delaema had been freed by late Wednesday, but a spokesman for the Dutch national prosecutor said his release was imminent.

Delaema, who grew up in Iraq and became a Dutch citizen in 2001, admitted traveling to Iraq in 2003 to be a member of an insurgent group in Fallujah.

He was videotaped planting roadside bombs designed to kill Americans. In one video, a hooded Delaema could be seen brushing dirt away from an explosive device and then helping to rebury it. In another clip, he could be heard saying, "We have executed several operations and most of them were successful. . . . The casualties have gone beyond your imagination."

Dutch police thought Delaema might have been involved in the May 2004 killing of an American contractor in Iraq. They turned up no evidence linking him to the killing but did turn up the other evidence linking him to terrorist activity, U.S. prosecutors said.

After Dutch police arrested Delaema in May 2005, a two-year extradition battle ensued in which the United States agreed that if he were tried in a U.S. court, he would be sent home to serve his sentence, and that the Dutch courts would be able to review and possibly modify the terms of the sentence. "Mr. al-Delaema deserved to serve a prison sentence that represented the severity of his crime," Sweeney said.

She said that when the United States sent him home, it provided evidence of Delaema's crimes, including an admission of aggravated assault that resulted in the hospitalization of a guard from the D.C. jail.

"We strongly disagree with any assertion or conclusion that the conditions under which Delaema was held in custody in the United States - which were identical to those of other inmates - justified shortening the length of his prison term in the Netherlands," Sweeney said.

Japan murder case: Chinese national in Toronto committed for extradition

A judge has committed a Chinese national living in Toronto for extradition to Japan amid questions about a 1995 supermarket murders.

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A judge has ordered a Chinese national living in Toronto to be committed for extradition to Japan, where he is wanted for questioning in a high-profile supermarket murder of a woman and two schoolgirls.

Liang He, 41, who describes himself as a Brampton supermarket worker, was allegedly involved with criminal gangs in Japan, according to Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Clark.

Clark ruled Monday that the married father of two sons should be extradited to face charges of using an improperly issued Japanese passport, though his lawyers argue Japan is using that as an excuse to question him about the murders.

The courthouse on University Ave. was beset by 20 Japanese reporters covering the story.

On the night of July 30, 1995, three part-time workers were shot at Nanpei Supermarket in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji. Dead were high school students Hiromi Maeda, 16, and Megumi Yabuki, 17, as well as 47-year-old Noriko Inagaki. The crime remains unsolved.

Liang He is alleged to have lived in Japan from the 1990s until 2002. In 1994, He was found guilty in Yokohama District Court of an immigration offence and deported. But he returned to Japan, joining a gang committing burglaries and robberies, the judge said.

In 2002, he allegedly returned to his native China, using a fake passport, and dealt illegal drugs with a Japanese accomplice, Teruo Tekeda, Clark wrote. Tekeda was arrested in China and sentenced to execution. While awaiting death, Tekeda told authorities that although He was not likely responsible for the Japanese supermarket murders, he might know who was.

Tokyo police believed it was vital to interrogate He “to solve this high-profile unsolved murder case,” extradition documents said.

Outside court, He’s lawyers, Peter Zaduk and Robin Parker, said they will appeal his extradition, which could take up to three years, and will seek to renew his bail.

They argued Japan’s application is an abuse of process because the passport allegation is a ruse to question him about the murders. They said He is willing to be questioned by Japanese police in Canada, which would be fairer and quicker.

But Clark ruled there is clear evidence a passport crime was committed. “I cannot agree that the present intention to prosecute is a sham.”

It is now up Justice Minister Rob Nicholson whether to deport He, who is a Canadian citizen after having made a successful refugee claim.

Judge dismisses publication ban request in case of Vancouver developer facing extradition

A B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed a defence lawyer’s application Friday for a publication ban in the case of a Vancouver real estate developer facing possible extradition to the US to face fraud allegations.

  Accused fraudster Mark Chandler (left) crosses the street on his way back to BC Supreme Court Friday, September 8, 2017 to attend his extradition hearing .

Accused fraudster Mark Chandler (left) crosses the street on his way back to BC Supreme Court Friday, September 8, 2017 to attend his extradition hearing.

Mark John Chandler, a longtime Vancouver real estate developer with a history of legal skirmishes, appeared Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver for a hearing in which the US government seeks his extradition to face allegations he participated in an alleged “fraudulent scheme” involving a proposed Los Angeles highrise condo development. After an investigation by an FBI Special Agent, the US requested Chandler’s extradition from Canada in March 2015.

As reported this week in The Vancouver Sun, Chandler’s extradition hearing comes at the same time as his most recent Metro Vancouver condo project is entangled in legal disputes, including foreclosure actions initiated by private lenders and a lawsuit filed on behalf of dozens of people claiming they paid deposits for strata units in the Langley development.

In court Friday, Chandler’s lawyer Michael Bolton referred to The Sun story in his application for an interim publication ban.

As of Friday’s hearing, it has been more than two years since the US requested Chandler’s extradition.

But, Bolton said, it wasn’t until this week the case received “a huge amount of publicity” because of the Sun’s coverage.

Because Chandler, 54, faces a federal felony charge in the US, it will automatically go to jury trial, Bolton said, arguing that publishing details of the case might impair Chandler’s chances at a fair trial in the US if he is eventually extradited.

The Attorney General of Canada opposed any publication ban, said John Gibb-Carsley, a lawyer with the Department of Justice Canada, who is acting on behalf of the US in the case.

A publication ban on Chandler’s case would be inappropriate, Gibb-Carsley said, citing an earlier Canadian court decision regarding a US extradition request which highlighted the right of freedom of the press, saying: “Public confidence in our judicial system is not enhanced if justice is dispensed behind closed doors and for reasons that are kept secret.”

Gibb-Carsley said an application for such a ban would normally come at the beginning of an extradition hearing. Since Chandler was arrested in May 2015, there had already been 19 court appearances in connection with the extradition request, Gibb-Carsley said, with no application for a publication ban before Friday.

Gibb-Carsley argued extradition hearings are often subject to public scrutiny and there was nothing extraordinary about Chandler’s case to require a ban.

Bolton replied that “there was nothing extraordinary about this case until yesterday,” referring to the Sun’s front-page story. After a brief recess to consider the application for a ban, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Duncan dismissed it, citing, among other reasons, the importance of the court operating in public.

The extradition hearing was adjourned to next month, for a decision on a request by Chandler’s defence lawyer for further disclosure from the US.

Chandler, when approached outside court on Friday, would not comment.

Supreme Court says woman and brother should be extradited to India in 'honour killing' case

Top court says surrender order from then Justice Minister Peter MacKay after 2000 killing was justified

  Jassi Sidhu, right, was killed after she secretly married Mithu Sidhu in India in 2000 . (Family photo)

Jassi Sidhu, right, was killed after she secretly married Mithu Sidhu in India in 2000. (Family photo)

A B.C. woman and her brother, accused of masterminding the murder of her 25-year-old daughter, should be extradited to India to face justice, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

India had requested Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha, the mother and uncle, respectively, of Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu, be extradited to face trial for a charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the 2000 death.

Jassi Sidhu's body was dumped near a canal after her throat was slashed, allegedly targeted for secretly marrying a man of much lower social status instead of the older man her family had arranged for her to wed in Canada.

Her husband, Sukhwinder (Mithu) Sidhu was badly beaten and left for dead, but he survived.

It is the theory of the Indian government that Jassi was the victim of an "honour killing" arranged by her mother and uncle, the judgment reads. 

Honour killings are normally murders committed because of patriarchal concepts of honour and shame. They're considered gender-based crimes, since girls and women are usually the victims. 

In a unanimous decision released Friday morning, the high court found that a surrender order by then Justice Minister Peter MacKay was justified.

'Reasonable' decision to surrender

"In this case, it was reasonable for the minister to conclude that, on the basis of the assurances he received from India, there was no substantial risk of torture or mistreatment of B and S that would offend the principles of fundamental justice protected by s. 7  of the charter, and that their surrenders were not otherwise unjust or oppressive," the judgment reads.

A surrender order signed by MacKay was challenged and ultimately struck down by B.C.'s Court of Appeal last year.

Sidhu and Badesha had argued they could face neglect or mistreatment in India's prison system, and said there was no guarantee India would uphold its assurance it would not administer the death penalty.

India has provided assurances the pair would have access to medical treatment and would not be mistreated. 

But lawyers for the accused argued before the Supreme Court in March that those assurances were not enough to protect the pair, and that sending them to India would violate their constitutional rights under Sec. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person. 

Global justice at stake

Government lawyers argued the global system of justice, which relies on extradition treaties, could be undermined if Canada refused to send the pair to face trial in India.

The ruling said the minister considered relevant facts and reached a "defensible conclusion" on the basis of those facts.

  Jassi Sidhu was murdered in Punjab, India in 2000.  (Family photo)

Jassi Sidhu was murdered in Punjab, India in 2000. (Family photo)

"The alleged crime for which India was seeking Mr. Badesha's and Ms. Sidhu's extradition was extremely serious, and in the minister's view, it was important that Canada comply with its treaty obligations to India so that India could see justice done on its territory," the judgment reads.

According to the judgment, 13 people, including Badesha and Sidhu, were charged in India in connection with the killing and attack. Eleven of those were tried together in India. Seven were convicted and four were acquitted of offences, and four of them were later acquitted on appeal.

Badesha and Sidhu are the only accused persons who have not yet faced trial.

Megaupload execs’ extradition may be at risk after new spying revelations

GCSB couldn't say more without jeopardizing the national security of New Zealand.

  Kim Dotcom speaks to the media following a bail hearing at Auckland District Court on December 1, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Kim Dotcom speaks to the media following a bail hearing at Auckland District Court on December 1, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The High Court of New Zealand, the country’s intermediate appellate court, has ruled that the entire government spying operation conducted against two of Kim Dotcom’s closest colleagues was not authorized under local law in 2011.

According to a court filing newly released on Friday afternoon, Auckland time (late Thursday evening, Eastern Time), the Government Communications Security Bureau conducted an "unlawful" and "unreasonable search" of Bram van der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann, two Megaupload executives. The GCSB is the New Zealand equivalent of the National Security Agency in the United States.

At the time, van der Kolk (like Dotcom himself) was a permanent resident of New Zealand, which meant that he should have been exempted from being spied upon by the GCSB, which apparently failed to adequately verify their immigration status.

Ortmann, a German citizen, had arrived in New Zealand in time to celebrate Dotcom's birthday on January 20, 2012—the same day that the fateful raid on the Dotcom mansion took place. Since shortly after his arrest, Ortmann has been free on bail, but he has not been allowed to leave the country since.

Both van der Kolk and Ortmann challenged the spying in 2016.

These men, like Dotcom, are currently appealing their extradition order to the United States. The Megaupload founder and his colleagues have been battling an American criminal copyright case from New Zealand for years now, and so far they've successfully resisted extradition.

"The entire scope"

Grant Illingworth, an Auckland-based attorney who represents both van der Kolk and Ortmann, told Ars late Thursday evening that the new admission illustrates the lengths that the GCSB went to at the behest of American authorities.

Illingworth explained that because Ortmann, a foreigner visiting New Zealand, successfully challenged the GCSB spying operation with no objection from the government, the entirety of the surveillance of the Megaupload men is now called into question.

"We now believe on the basis of this judgement that the GCSB were acting outside their powers even in relation to a foreign person—because if they were entitled to spy on [Ortmann], GCSB would have denied the allegations," he said. "Which means the illegal spying must have been more than the permanent residence issue—in other words the whole operation was outside the scope of the powers of the GCSB."

In July 2017, another court ruling found that the GCSB had been spying on Dotcom himself for two months longer than had previously been known.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the GCSB told the New Zealand Herald: "it was not possible for GCSB to plead to the allegations… without revealing information which would jeopardise the national security of New Zealand."

She added that van der Kolk and Ortmann "settled their claims earlier this year."

No endgame in sight

For now, it remains unclear how this new revelation will affect ongoing extradition proceedings and appeals. Dotcom's attorneys are set to appear for a February 2018 appellate extradition hearing at the Court of Appeals in Wellington.

"This judgment does further clarify that it's further a violation of the New Zealand Bill of Rights," Ira Rothken, Dotcom's chief global counsel, told Ars in a phone call late Thursday evening in California.

"There are a lot of issues of first impression in this case, the extradition issues are being tested for the first time. We have a trail of government abuse to now what we're calling an illegal search, and we also have the US, having been found by the New Zealand court to have violated New Zealand law when they took the data offshore without permission. At some point, and we think that point has been met, the case should be dismissed in the interests of justice. How much government abuse do you have to have where the duty of good faith and candor can be violated by the government and the abuse can be so great that no court should entertain an extradition proceeding so tainted with irregularities?"

Suspected drug lord Muhammad Asif Hafeez faces extradition to US

Pakistani national accused of leading international narcotics syndicate appears in London court after UK-US operation

  Armed police in London. Muhammad Asif Hafeez is alleged to be head of a narcotics smuggling empire spanning Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.  Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

Armed police in London. Muhammad Asif Hafeez is alleged to be head of a narcotics smuggling empire spanning Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

The alleged mastermind behind a global narcotics smuggling empire has appeared in court after being seized in London in a UK-US operation. Muhammad Asif Hafeez, who was arrested at property in the Regent’s Park area, faces extradition to the US.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) in London said after the arrest that communications between members of Hafeez’s syndicate showed he was known as the Sultan.

Hafeez, 58, a Pakistani national, is alleged to be the head of an organisation spanning Europe, Africa, Asia and North America, that produced and smuggled drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, or crystal meth, and ephedrine.

The NCA worked with the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to investigate Hafeez after he was allegedly identified as the source of large quantities of heroin being smuggled into Kenya from Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is said to have been supplying a family-based narcotics syndicate in Mombasa with what he boasted was “diamond carat”-quality heroin.

The family involved had been smuggling drugs into and out of Kenya for decades, according to US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks. One leading member of the clan was killed in a drive-by shooting in Amsterdam’s red light district in 2000.

Members of the Kenyan gang were allegedly recorded as they agreed to sell 99kg (218 lbs) of the Sultan’s heroin to a group of men they thought were South American drug dealers looking to smuggle it into the US, but who were in fact working for the DEA.

At one point during the sting operation, the South Americans were introduced to the Sultan during a Skype call, which was covertly recorded. Four men were subsequently arrested in a raid on a mansion in the wealthy Mombasa beach suburb of Nyali and were extradited to the US this year. The 99kg of heroin was seized.

Another seizure related to Hafeez’s alleged narcotics trafficking involved the recovery of 18 tonnes of ephedrine in India.

The NCA said the allegations he faced included agreeing to smuggle narcotics into the US since at least 2013. Hafeez is said to own two properties in London, and spend most of his time in Dubai. He appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Friday for the start of extradition proceedings to the US, where he is wanted on charges of conspiring to import drugs. One of Hafeez’s sons looked on from the public gallery.

Wearing spectacles, a turquoise polo shirt and black leather jacket, Hafeez sat with his arms crossed as Hashim Chaudri, prosecuting, said he could face life imprisonment in the US. Chaudri opposed bail stating that Hafeez had “significant contacts and assets throughout the world” and a large amount of wealth. “A simple reason to believe he will not surrender is that he himself and his co-conspirators agreed to buy drugs, there is significant evidence against him,” he added.

Russell Nicholson, defending, said Hafeez was a businessman and trader who said he was the victim of mistaken identity.Nicholson added that Hafeez had no previous convictions in “any jurisdiction in the world” and could offer a £100,000 security if granted bail.

The district judge, Rebecca Crane, refused bail.

The NCA branch commander, Martin Huxley, said: “This is a hugely significant arrest of a man suspected of being the head of a global drug production and distribution network, with links across Asia, Europe and North America.

“Because of the scale of the criminality alleged here, this is an international investigation, and the NCA has worked extremely closely with our partners in the US and UK.

“The organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking at this level fuel violence and exploitation at every step, from the locations overseas where drugs are farmed and produced right through to the dealers on UK street corners.”

As police arrest British fugitives in Spain, are the days of the Costa del Crime numbered?

Mark 'Fatboy' Lilley was grabbed from his villa in southern Spain by police last weekend. The arrest was the latest to signal the end of an era when UK criminals could find a sunny haven on the Med

  Mark Lilley is arrested in his villa near Malaga.

Mark Lilley is arrested in his villa near Malaga.

The shaky handheld camera. The barking dogs. The hovering helicopter. The crack of splintered wood as the metal "enforcer" smashes its way into the villa. The garish four-poster bed. The hidden pistol. The bolted "panic room". Yes, it must be the latest flashy crime procedural to hit our screens, wearing all its cliches as proudly as a freshly inked tattoo.

But no, this film was made by the Spanish police and it showed the arrest last weekend of a fugitive British criminal. Mark Lilley, aka "Fatboy", "Mandy" and "Big Vern", a 41-year-old drug dealer from Merseyside, was arrested after more than 12 years on the run. The whole operation, from the scaling of the front gates of his villa in Alhaurín de la Torre near Málaga, to the exposure of his en suite lair, was captured on film. Although trained in the Brazilian martial art of vale tudo(which means "anything goes"), and guarded by three large dogs, Lilley went quietly.

The arrest came two months after another Briton on the run, Andrew Moran, was grabbed by his pool in Calpe on Spain's Costa Blanca. That arrest was also filmed, although Moran disobligingly spoiled his close-up by vaulting over a wall and pulling his T-shirt over his head before he was finally caught.

He had escaped four years earlier from Burnley crown court, where he was convicted in his absence of conspiring to commit armed robbery. Lilley was the 51st criminal on the 65-strong Operation Captura wanted list – drawn up by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) – to have his collar felt on the Costas. But to some it seems strange that British criminals still opt for Spanish hideaways. Have they never seenSexy Beast?

"The attraction for Spain is still there, as there is a huge expat British population," said Dave Allen, head of the fugitives unit at Soca. But there are other European options. "The language is not too much of an issue in the Netherlands either – the Dutch speak very good English and are culturally similar to the British, so it's easy to fit in." But some are now looking further afield: "The places we're seeing them go to now are Thailand, certainly, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates."

He said that 133 fugitives were arrested abroad at the request of the UK last year. "The people we put on the Crimestoppers website – it's not a top 10 'most wanted' list; that's an American thing – are the ones seen to be the most dangerous. They are wanted for violent crimes, predatory sex offences and the like."

The arrests of Lilley and Moran represent something of a coup for Soca, helped by the fact that they were filmed and thus received maximum publicity. Another high-profile fugitive was apprehended in Athens on the same day as Lilley, but the Greek police did not film it, so it received less coverage. Kevin Hanley, from Fulham, west London, wanted in connection with drug dealing, was caught as he tucked into sausage, eggs and soda bread in front of the Lions v Wallabies game at Molly Malone's pub in the suburb of Glyfada. The police knew he was a rugby fan and had staked out the limited number of places in Athens where the big game could be watched.

Jason Coghlan, a former armed robber from Manchester who served time with Lilley as a category A prisoner in Strangeways, now runs a Marbella law firm, JaCogLaw, which advises ex-pats who are in trouble with the authorities. Its website boasts an impressive series of quotations from Aristotle to Gladstone, although the one probably most likely to catch the eye of potential clients is from 18th-century jurist William Blackstone: "Better that 10 guilty men escape justice than that one innocent man goes to prison."

Coghlan, who is setting up a similar outfit in Bangkok, thinks that Spain is a daft place to hide. "If you're a villain on the run in Spain, you're just in a queue waiting to get nicked. What a lot of them don't realise is that the Spanish police can even trace where your emails are coming from. Being on the run is no life – and it's no life for the family of someone on the run. Some of them think that, with the passage of time, their sentences will be reduced. But the sentences don't go away."

He said that if he were on the run himself, he would probably head for eastern Europe, either Albania or Romania. "A lot of the armed robbers come to Spain because they can go into drug smuggling – it's the number one place, not just because of the hashish from Morocco but because of cocaine coming in from Mexico."

Coghlan said he thought the tip-offs that led to the arrests of Britons generally came not from sharp-eyed members of the public but from other members of the underground: "If someone throws their weight around and makes a nuisance of themselves, that might lead to a tip-off." And he's sceptical about the idea of villains now having a panic room along with the pool and the four-poster. "I think that was just a hidey-hole – people call it a panic room because of the film."

But take a virtual stroll through the English-language estate agents' websites in Spain and you will be amazed how many homes offer "bullet-proof glass" as a special feature along with the spa bath and barbecue area.

In a brief window between 1978 and 1985 when extradition agreements between Spain and the UK broke down, a number of wanted men settled on the "Costa del Crime". Ronnie Knight, the former husband of Barbara Windsor, is credited with establishing Spain as a getaway destination. But his Costa days are over; he now lives in sheltered accommodation near Cambridge and told magistrates, when he was charged with drink-driving last year, that he mainly uses his car to help fellow residents with their shopping.

The Spanish authorities are less tolerant these days of the expat criminals who land on their doorstep: there were 1,599 arrests of Britons there last year. But by no means all of them are on a par with the likes of Lilley and Moran.

"Most of the foreign nationals arrested in Spain don't fit the stereotype of the 'Mr Big' of the crime world," said Jago Russell of UK charity Fair Trials International. "Many of the dozens of people we help each year are arrested for minor crimes, and many of these are ultimately cleared, often after months or years in pre-trial detention." Another charity, Prisoners Abroad, which looks after Britons held overseas, says Spain is top of its list in Europe, with 95 clients there.

So if not Spain, where? Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, which has no extradition arrangement with the UK because it is not recognised as a country, became popular for a while – as Asil Nadir's long exile showed. But last year Soca launched Operation Zygos, which covers the whole of island, with nine fugitives in its sights. The northern government now stresses that it does not want to become a haven for Brits fleeing justice.

Lee Murray, the half-Moroccan cage-fighter and ringleader of the gang that stole £53m cash from a Securitas depot in Kent in 2006, headed for Morocco when he fled, holing up in Rabat with another member of his gang. But he ignored the first rule for criminals on the run: blend in. The locals thought the pair must be gay, because it was so unusual for single men to be living together, and this attracted attention which eventually led to their arrests. Murray also could not resist splashing his money around. As Howard Sounes describes it, in Heist, his book about the crime, his villa was furnished with "cream leather sofas, an elephant tusk lamp-stand, a harp-shaped bookshelf and gold chairs in the shape of giant sea shells."

Thailand remains a popular criminal hideout. Bogus identity documents are easy to come by, corruption is still rife and, just like Spain, it provides the prerequisites for the Brit-on-the-run: full English breakfast, access to satellite coverage of the Premier League, and sunshine.

One final tip for runaways, apart from avoiding televised rugby matches in Greece: get rid of the tattoos. One of those recently nabbed in Spain had a tattoo of a pit bull terrier and the motto "only the strong survive". How true.

Terror suspect would be stateless after extradition, court told

Supreme court hears case of Minh Pham, who faces extradition to US on terror charges and is fighting to retain UK citizenship

  A British passport. 

A British passport. 

A man alleged by MI5 to be involved in “terrorism-related activities” would be rendered stateless if he was removed from Britain, the supreme court has heard.

Minh Pham, who is in his 30s and is being held in prison, has been named for the first time in his three-year legal battle to retain his UK citizenship. He is facing extradition to the US on terrorism charges. The test case is being heard by seven justices in the UK’s highest court.

The appeal comes in the wake of government proposals to limit the right of British citizens to enter the country if they are suspected of returning from involvement in violent Islamic extremism.

Until Tuesday’s hearing Pham’s identity had been withheld. He was named only as B2 in earlier proceedings at the special immigration appeals commission (Siac) and the court of appeal.

Pham was born in Vietnam and came to the UK in 1989. He subsequently acquired British citizenship at the age of 12. When he reached 21 he converted to Islam. He has a British wife and children in the UK.

In 2011, Home Office ministers ordered him to be deprived of British nationality after an MI5 assessment concluded that he was involved in terrorism-related activities. Pham’s lawyers say he would be left stateless if he were deprived of British nationality on security grounds.

Hugh Southey QC said it appeared that Pham in effect lost his Vietnamese nationality when he was granted British citizenship in the 1990s. “It’s highly questionable whether Vietnam would accept him back,” he told the court.

Under a 1954 United Nations convention, countries are not allowed to render individuals stateless. Pham’s case also raises questions about his entitlement to citizenship within the EU. Southey said: “It’s clear that in treaties there’s a well established principle of EU citizenship [in addition to national citizenship].

In Vietnam, any decision about whether an individual is deemed to be a national is an executive rather than judicial matter, the court was told. Judgment is expected to be reserved until next year. The case continues.