An international coalition of more than 40 groups, including E.A.T. partner Blueprint for Free Speech, is seeking to prevent Croatia from extraditing a British whistleblower to Monoco. Jonathan Taylor previously revealed a bribery scheme in the offshore oil industry.
They are reaching out to help Taylor, who has been held in Croatia after since going to Dubrovnik for holiday in July 2020 with his wife and two children. His family have since returned home.
Taylor was previously a lawyer for the Dutch company SBM Offshore, and had revealed what he said were payments of more than $250 million to win contracts. Those claims lead to record fines of $827 million levied against SBM Offshore by US and Dutch authorities.
Two former CEOs were eventually convicted for fraud-related offenses.
Jonathan Taylor had been arrested on an Interpol Red licence issued by Monaco on bribery and corruption charges – since withdrawn – but Monegasque authorities still want to question him over offenses alleged by SBM Offshore, which has a regional center there.
Taylor has not been charged and has said that he’s bewildered the UK isn’t intervening in his case, adding that the allegations against him were baseless and related to “usual negotiation” between Monegasque lawyers which was “for using counsel and not an attempt to extort”.
“Nothing has been done by the Monaco authorities to seek justice in relation to the many individuals that were involved in this whole elaborate scheme. It does lead me to feel very doubtful as to whether I will indeed receive a fair trial,” he said. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-55706343
On January 4, 2021 the Dubrovnik County Court again ruled to extradite Taylor despite the Croatian Supreme Court partially upholding his appeal against an earlier decision in favor of extradition by the lower court.
“We call on the UK Government to intervene with their Croatian and Monegasque counterparts on Jonathan Taylor’s behalf; and we call on the European Parliament to condemn this ongoing harassment of an important whistleblower,” the Coalition stated.
It added that, “The only ‘crime’ Jonathan Taylor appears to have committed was to blow the whistle and to cooperate with prosecuting authorities in four separate countries, the UK, the US, Brazil and the Netherlands, in their investigations into the criminal conduct of SBM Offshore.”
The massive bribery scheme SBM Offshore was involved in was part of the Operation Car Wash scandal that brought down the Brazilian government, with severe and ongoing consequences for that country and its people.
The coalition statement said, “We remain appalled at the treatment that has been meted out to him, an important whistleblower who revealed massive corruption in the offshore oil industry,” calling his case “a litmus test on whether our democratic systems can survive.”
Taylor is trapped in a foreign country during the COVID-19 pandemic but the position of the UK government is that there was “no evidence” Taylor’s arrest was linked to whistleblowing, the BBC reported in November, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-54900856
At that time, he said: “The way I’m treated by the government, whereby it choosing to knowingly sit on its hands and not get involved when it’s been invited to get involved, is utterly beyond all logical conclusion.”
Some British parliamentarians have argued that the lack of UK involvement sends a “chilling message.” Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy questioned whether the arrest was retaliation by Monaco for Taylor exposing “widespread wrongdoing,” in an enclave for the super rich.
The coalition statement added that, “Jonathan should not suffer any further for his whistleblowing compounded by a disinterested legal system that is proceeding on an extradition request based on a flawed Red Notice alert that itself was the result of a criminal complaint that should never have been made and which SBM Offshore company has stated it is no longer pursuing”.
The call was coordinated by Media Freedom Rapid Response which ties together the Whistleblowing International Network, Transparency International, journalists, anti-corruption activists, academics, lawmakers, and legal and media freedom groups.