Since May 31, French national Sebastien Raoult has been detained in Morocco while the U.S. seeks his extradition to the U.S. to face charges he allegedly engaged in criminal activities with ShinyHunters. On December 26, the Moroccan court of cassation ruled that yes, he would be extradited.
After exhausting all appeals to the French government which seemingly refused to get involved to protect their own national’s rights, Raoult’s counsel is trying one last appeal this week.
In a submission today to the U.N. Committee Against Torture, Philippe Ohayon appeals to the Committee to bar Morocco’s extradition on the grounds that the convention against torture requires signatories to consider whether an expulsion or return of a citizen would put them at risk of torture or degrading or inhumane treatment. The Kingdom of Morocco, France, and the United States are all signatories to the convention.
Morocco, Ohayon claims, did not look into the question it was obligated to consider as a signatory — whether extraditing Raoult would subject him to the risk of torture or inhumane conditions. Citing case law involving the Committee and Morocco, Ohayon pointed out other cases in which the Committee had barred Morocco from extraditing people to Turkey because Morocco had failed to properly consider the risk of torture or inhumane treatment the individuals might face.
Despite Morocco’s repeated failures to consider the risks across cases — a failure that Ohayon attributes to poor wording of Section 721 of their code of criminal procedure — Morocco has yet to amend the wording of their code. In Raoult’s case, there is no indication that they made any consideration of the risks.
While Raoult may be unlikely to face physical torture, there are other types of degrading or inhumane treatment he may face in the U.S., and the Committee has long had concerns about some issues as such as detention centers that the U.S. would not admit to nor permit inspection of, conditions at Guantanamo, and rapes and assaults in prison environments. But in Raoult’s case, there is another significant factor to consider: the way the U.S. indictment and sentencing guidelines read, Raoult could be sentenced to 116 years, which is a life sentence, and the U.S. had provided no assurance that there is the possibility he could get out sooner.
While Ohayon understandably emphasizes the absence of that necessary assurance, even if the U.S. were to provide such assurance, any lengthy sentence seems disproportionate and inhumane. If Raoult were to be tried in France on the same charges and convicted, what kind of sentence would he possibly face? Surely it wouldn’t be 116 years.
Raoult has been in Moroccan detention for six months now. If the Committee Against Torture doesn’t get involved to help him, he will likely be extradited to Washington state by the end of January. According to Ohayon, they should hear from the Committee within a week as to whether they will get involved and suspend the extradition.