Harry Dunn crash: Sacoolas extradition refusal ‘final’, Biden administration says
Joe Biden’s administration has dealt an initial blow to hopes of justice for the family of Harry Dunn, insisting that the US State Department’s decision not to extradite his alleged killer was “final”. The 19-year-old was killed on his motorbike when a car being driven on the wrong side of the road by Anne Sacoolas crashed into him outside US military base RAF Croughton in August 2019. Ms Sacoolas, whose husband worked as a technical assistant at the RAF base, returned to the US after Donald Trump’s administration asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf, sparking an international row.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, raised the case in his phone call with the new US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, on Wednesday, according to the PA news agency. But the first member of Mr Biden’s administration to speak publicly about the case, State Department spokesman Ned Price, maintained the position that Ms Sacoolas would not be extradited to the UK.
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“We again offer our sincere condolences and sympathy to the Dunn family for the loss of their son. This was a tragic accident,” he said in a statement.
“Since the tragic accident occurred, the United States has been closely engaged with the UK government and we have been transparent about our positions on legal and diplomatic matters concerning this accident. “The United States government has declined the United Kingdom’s request for extradition of a US citizen involved in a tragic vehicle accident that occurred in the United Kingdom.
“Our decision in that regard was final. “At the time the accident occurred, and for the duration of her stay in the UK, the US citizen driver in this case had immunity from criminal jurisdiction.”
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office also repeated its position by labelling the refusal to extradite Ms Sacoolas a “denial of justice”. The 43-year-old was formally charged in December 2019 with causing death by dangerous driving, but a Home Office extradition request was declined the following month. Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, later launched a legal challenge claiming Ms Sacoolas should not have been granted immunity, which was rejected by the High Court in November.
The family have been given the green light to appeal the decision. Despite Mr Price’s words, Ms Charles said she is still confident she will get justice for her son and reissued her plea for Mr Biden to look at the case personally. “This statement from the State Department comes as no surprise,” Ms Charles said. “It is a repeat of exactly what they have said before as their public position on the case.
“The bottom line is that this is not what diplomatic immunity is to be used for between two friendly countries and the State Department knows that. “Our spokesperson Radd Seiger is having conversations with officials in Washington and London, and remains absolutely confident that we will get justice for Harry. “You do not get to kill someone and walk away no matter who you are and I maintain my direct appeal to President Biden and his new secretary of state Tony Blinken to do the right thing.
It is the only way forward. “We are very pleased that Dominic Raab raised the case with Secretary of State Blinken and the issue of denial of our justice.” A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We believe the US’s refusal to extradite Anne Sacoolas amounts to a denial of justice and we continue to support the Dunn family to seek justice for Harry.
“The foreign secretary raised the case in his first discussion with Secretary Blinken.”
Additional reporting by PA
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