Mother-of-three facing U.S. trial 15 years after fleeing an unhappy marriage
By Jack Doyle
Last updated at 11:06 PM on 22nd February 2012
A mother who fled to Britain with her three children nearly 15 years ago faces extradition to the U.S. on charges of ‘kidnapping’ them.
Eileen Clark, 54, has lived ‘openly’ in Britain since 1998 after leaving an unhappy marriage. But two years ago she was arrested at her Oxfordshire home after the FBI put her on its ‘most wanted’ list.
Yesterday the High Court dismissed her appeal, meaning she could be put on a plane within weeks.
Battle: Eileen Clark is facing extradition to the U.S. on charges of kidnapping her children Rebekah, 18, Hayden, 20, (on left) and Chandler, 22, when her marriage broke down
Her supporters say it is yet another example of how the ‘unfair’ Extradition Act is being misused. They claim Mrs Clark was originally wanted for the lower level crime of ‘custodial interference’, which is not a criminal offence in this country.
Only later did prosecutors issue a warrant for the more serious charge of ‘international parental kidnapping’.
Her children Chandler, 24, Hayden, 22, and Rebekah, 19, are all university students in London and are bitterly opposed to their mother being sent for trial.
Despite their age, all three were labelled ‘missing children’ and later ‘endangered adults’ by the U.S. authorities.
When her mother was first arrested Rebekah said the case was ‘absolutely ridiculous’. ‘There are murderers all over the world and my mum is wanted by the FBI. It’s the biggest joke I’ve heard in my life,’ she said.
Mrs Clark left the home she shared with her first husband John Clark in New Mexico in February 1995. The marriage was dissolved in 1997, with both parents retaining legal custody.
The former model, a U.S. citizen, went to California to live with friends before moving to the Isle of Wight in 1998. She married a Canadian national and has lived in Oxfordshire for more than eight years.
Her ex-husband has demanded she ‘pays the price’ for leaving the country with his children.
Fighting the process: Computer hacker Gary McKinnon is still facing extradition to the U.S , with his case highlighting the unfairness of the 2003 extradition treaty
U.S. prosecutors say they only discovered Mrs Clark was living in Britain in 2008. She was arrested in July 2010 and faces three years in prison if convicted.
Extradition was approved by a magistrates’ court but Mrs Clark’s lawyers, Kaim Todner – who are also representing Gary McKinnon – took the case to appeal.
Mr McKinnon, 45, who suffers from Asperger’s, has spent years fighting extradition to the U.S. on charges of hacking into military computers while searching for evidence of ‘little green men’.
His case has highlighted the unfairness of the 2003 extradition treaty between Britain and the U.S. and sparked the Daily Mail’s An Affront To British Justice campaign.
Mrs Clark’s lawyers told the High Court it would be ‘oppressive’ to extradite her because of her worsening psychiatric problems and fear of flying.
Mrs Clark, who was not in court yesterday because of her medical problems, has said sending her to America to stand trial would have a devastating impact on her children.
But rejecting the appeal, Mr Justice Underhill questioned the assertion that Mrs Clark had lived ‘openly’ in the UK since 1998.
The judge said that, while she may have retained her own name, ‘she did not tell anyone in the U.S. where she was’.
He said: ‘We accept there will be hardship for the appellant if she is returned to the U.S. to stand trial, but we do not believe that hardship can properly be characterised as oppressive.’
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Mother of three who 'kidnapped' children 14 years ago must return to US to face charges | Mail Online