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16 Jun 2023

Cyprus strikes again, China's extradition woes across Europe deepen

Due to a number of recent developments regarding extradition cases to China across Europe, Safeguard Defenders today publishes an update on its earlier and more detailed overview of China's extradition woes since 2020.


Today June 16, the Cypriot district court of Paphos denied an extradition to China. This adds yet another country with the 46-member state block of Council of Europe nations that moves to uphold the recent European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) decision to block extraditions to China.

  • The verdict document has not yet been delivered at the time of writing, so the reasoning for denial has not yet been made clear.
  • Safeguard Defenders' Peter Dahlin appeared in court for the defense and for cross-examination by the prosecutor in mid-February and mid-March, respectively, and submitted a full report on the state of the right to a fair trial, independence of the judiciary, access to legal counsel, forced confessions, torture and ill-treatment within the Chinese judiciary. 
  • This follows an earlier denial by the district court of Larnaca, which blocked the first known extradition request from China since they entered into an extradition treaty with Cyprus, due to such being in violation of the right to a fair trial, and due to risk of both torture and ill-treatment.

On April 25 Albania’s Supreme Court blocked an extradition to China.

  • The verdict, oddly enough, does not offer any explanation on the reason for the denial, but follows pressure and materials presented showing it would be in violation of the ECtHR order, which would be highly problematic for the country that is actively seeking EU membership.

In the first ruling since the ECtHR Liu v. Poland sentence went into effect, on March 1, Italy’s highest court blocked an extradition to China. The Supreme Court of Cassation’s verdict states, “…there is the concrete risk […] of inhuman and degrading treatment, as affirmed by multiple trusted international sources….” It further highlights the “de facto impossibility for independent institutions to verify the conditions of those held in its centres of detention.”

Another extradition case is currently ongoing in Italy, in the jurisdiction of Venice.

In Spain, an extradition was rejected this spring.

  • The denial was due to the alleged crime not constituting a crime in Spain, and, therefore, not extraditable.

Spain has received another extradition request that is now in process, which, like the above, is to be handled in Madrid (Audiencia Nacional – National Court), but the process has not yet started.

  • China failed to file the extradition request within the legal time limit, but may attempt to restart the process.

In related news, the case of extradition of Zhang Haiyan in Portugal, which was approved last year, has seen an upset. After approval of the extradition her asylum request, which was filed afterwards, was denied. However, upon appeal, the higher instance struck down the denial, saying the asylum board (SEF) had failed to consider her human rights concerns. Hence, it seems likely the extradition, although earlier approved by court, will not be able to occur, and she is likely to be granted asylum.

  • We note that any extraditions already approved, but not yet carried out, would, if carried out, put the government in question in violation of the ECtHR decision regardless.

Finally, yesterday June 15, in a vote of 483 for, and only 9 against, the EU Parliament, again, voted for a motion calling on all member states to suspend extradition treaties with Hong Kong and with China.

See Map and Table of all cases 2020-2023 below.



See the full story on China’s extradition woes around Europe since 2020.