Anne Sacoolas fled the United Kingdom after killing a young Briton there in a road accident in 2019. After her judgment, the one who worked for American intelligence, who was not extradited, escaped prison.
A British court sentenced American Anne Sacoolas to an eight-month suspended prison sentence and a one-year license suspension on December 8 for causing the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn through her negligent driving. . His sentence, rather lenient because of his remorse according to the judges, is part of a case at the origin of diplomatic tensions between London and Washington.
The facts date back to August 2019 and took place in the south of England, near the American military base in Croughton, used as an intelligence collection center by the CIA and the NSA. Driving on the wrong side of the road, the American national had taken the life of the young Briton by hitting him while he was on a motorcycle.
Be close to the CIA, heaven help you?
Wife of Jonathan Sacoolas, an American intelligence officer stationed at the Croughton base, the forties Anne Sacoolas herself belongs to the world of American intelligence.
After her road accident, the driver at fault had very quickly returned to the United States, claiming diplomatic immunity. But for the British authorities, it was indeed justiciable: on December 20, 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service – in charge of the prosecution – authorized the Northamptonshire police to proceed with his charge. A few months later, in May 2020, an Interpol red notice was issued against him for extradition purposes.
Washington refused extradition
But the United States notified in January 2020 their refusal to extradite their national: “The United States has declined the United Kingdom’s request to extradite an American citizen involved in a tragic car accident”, a door confirmed at the time. -state department spokesman. “In this regard, this is a final decision by Secretary of State Pompeo. [en poste à l’époque]“, the American official maintaining that Anne Sacoolas benefited from diplomatic immunity on British territory.
According to several English media, like the BBC, intelligence agents based in Croughton cannot nevertheless claim diplomatic immunity in order to escape prosecution for offenses committed on British territory, under an agreement dating from 1995. But the question then arose for their relatives.
the DailyMail, in February 2020, argued that Sacoolas had “worked for the CIA”, and even at a higher rank than her husband, but was not “active” in the UK at the time of the accident. Quoted by the newspaper, the British Foreign Office explained that Anne Sacoolas was at that time designated by the United States as “spouse without official role”.
As The Guardian reports, the UK Supreme Court ruled in November 2020 that Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity. “Our conclusion is that Ms Sacoolas enjoyed immunity from UK criminal jurisdiction at the time of Harry’s death. We do not come to this conclusion with any enthusiasm for the outcome, but it is constrained by the operation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the judges said.
The Sacoolas mystery maintained by the confusion of his defense…
As also reported by the Guardianduring a hearing in a Virginia court held in February 2021, the defendant’s lawyer revealed that the latter worked for an American intelligence agency during the events, and that this had been “a factor” in her decision to leave the UK after the collision.
The latter, however, then corrected his remarks by specifying that she worked for the American State Department, and, when the judge asked him if this job covered intelligence work, he replied that he did not have this information. She would then have motivated her refusal to return to the United Kingdom by her fear “of not benefiting from a fair trial”, according to the lawyer.
A few months later, the American network CNN reported, after having had access to documents filed in court in Virginia, that lawyers for the American government had tried to suppress the details concerning the employment of Anne Sacoolas by invoking the ” national security”, and asserting that this information was of “little or no relevance to the determination of the remaining issues in this case”. For the first time, the American government admitted “publicly that Anne Sacoolas, and not only her husband, was employed by the government of the United States” at the time of the accident, noted the media then.
Finally, the Guardian provided explanations about the participation of Anne Sacoolas by videoconference in the hearing of December 8, 2022, when the British police had presented security measures to protect the one who considered herself threatened. According to the British newspaper, “another reason why she could not be present was given [par le juge]”, namely a recommendation of the American government. The latter had indeed invited her not to appear in person, indicating that “his return could endanger important American interests”, adding a disturbing element to the case.
CIA officer Anne Sacoolas gets away with killing a British teenager.
A case that did not fail to comment, at the time of its verdict, the wife of Julian Assange, himself threatened with extradition to the United States.
“CIA officer Anne Sacoolas got off lightly for killing a British teenager. Not a single day in prison for Mrs. Sacoolas”, commented Stella Assange, whose husband has been locked up for more than three and a half years in the British maximum security prison of Belmarsh. The founder of WikiLeaks faces 175 years in prison in the United States for having disseminated, from 2010, more than 700,000 classified documents on American military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, involving war crimes. and crimes against humanity.
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