Norway Won't Turn Over American
Tuesday, August 24, 1999; 12:29 p.m. EDT
OSLO, Norway (AP) -- A Norwegian court has refused to extradite a suspected drug smuggler to the United States, saying he might suffer inhumane conditions in an American jail.
The suspect, Henry Hendriksen, is a 49-year-old American. In 1997, he was found in Stavanger, a port in western Norway, and arrested on charges of smuggling about 50 tons of hashish into the United States. The charges were filed in Vermont.
Hendriksen fought extradition in a series of court cases that reached the Norwegian Supreme Court late last year.
In a unanimous decision, the high court questioned whether U.S. jails meet the humanitarian standard required for extradition under Norwegian law, sending the case back to a district court.
The Supreme Court's opinion is virtually always followed by the lower courts, and upon reconsideration, the district court decided July 16 not to extradite Hendriksen. The ruling did not make news in Norway until Tuesday.
"That is a pretty strong statement from the Supreme Court on American jails," defense attorney John Christian Elden said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Prison inmates in Norway, a wealthy and liberal welfare state, enjoy a standard of accommodation and privacy that some liken to that of a medium-priced motel.
Hendriksen is now in a refugee center. Elden said he assumed the American would be granted asylum based on human rights considerations.
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