Why was Frenchman Sébastien Raoult extradited to the United States?

Why was Frenchman Sébastien Raoult extradited to the United States?

Wednesday, January 25, 3:50 p.m. Sébastien Raoult, 21, flanked by American FBI agents, takes off from Morocco’s Casablanca airport for the United States. Morocco has thus implemented the American request for the extradition of the French national whom the United States accuses of cybercrime.

The young Frenchman is prosecuted on nine counts, in particular for criminal association, computer fraud and identity theft. He must be presented to a federal judge this Friday, January 27 in Seattle, a city in the American west where certain companies are located, victims of computer hacking which would have been perpetrated by the group of hackers. « ShinyHunters » formed by Sébastien Raoult and two other young French people.

Sébastien Raoult faces up to 116 years in prison

The trio, according to the charges, stole confidential data from large companies to resell on the “dark web”. Due to the principle of cumulative sentences practiced in the United States, Sébastien Raoult faces up to 116 years in prison.

The young man had abandoned his computer studies in Nancy at the end of 2021, then left to stay for a few months in Morocco. As he was preparing to return to France, he was arrested at Rabat airport and imprisoned on May 31, 2022. Almost a year earlier, in June 2021, American justice had issued an arrest warrant. targeting the three French people, then released in November 2021 an Interpol red card requesting the arrest for extradition purposes of Sébastien Raoult, the only one of the trio to leave the national territory. In July 2022, Moroccan justice gave a favorable opinion on his extradition, which Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akkhanouch confirmed by decree at the end of December.

“France did not move a finger for him to be tried in France”

“France did not move a finger for him to be tried in France”, protests the president of the human rights league Patrick Baudouin. Last October, the lawyer had demanded, in a letter to the French Minister of Justice Eric Dupont Moretti, that an approach be taken with the Moroccan authorities for the extradition of Sébastien Raoult to France so that he could be tried there. . ” Clearly, says the lawyer, the French courts have jurisdiction when the suspected criminal acts have taken place on French territory by a Frenchman”.

“The risk is great, he adds, that the sentence be disproportionate and that he be imprisoned for decades in the United States. » But the UN committee against torture which had been seized did not register the request, even though a risk of a life sentence can be considered as a disproportionate, cruel and inhuman punishment.

The doors of French justice remained closed

For lawyer Philippe Ohayon who defends Sébastien Raoult“this is a French affair offered to the Americans”. With the geopolitical context, particularly tense relations between France and Morocco. “There was also certainly the will not to interfere in Morocco-United States relations and not to compromise the close relations with the United States in the fight against cybercrime”, says Patrick Baudoin.

Despite the insistent requests of Philippe Ohayon, all the doors of French justice remained closed. The lawyer had first asked the public prosecutor’s office of Épinal in the Vosges, the city of origin of Sébastien Raoult, who refused, twice, in July and August 2022, to open an investigation.

France does not extradite its nationals

Seizing last August the administrative jurisdiction in summary proceedings to claim from the Keeper of the Seals the documents of the procedure of the request for mutual criminal assistance formed by the American authorities, Eric Dupond Moretti then replied that by virtue of the sensitive nature of the investigation, the United States had demanded that the confidentiality clause of the bilateral treaty be applied.

As part of this Franco-American mutual aid, the same day that Sébastien Raoult was arrested in Morocco, four people were placed in police custody in France and heard by the police, including the other two members of the trio, before being released. . One of them, Manuel, declared on a daily basis The Parisian September 1st: “It’s Sébastien who takes for everyone because he was arrested in Morocco. But he is not the most involved in this affair. »

The criminal procedure code is clear: France does not extradite its nationals. “She should have tried everything to have one of her nationals in Morocco tried on French soil, but, most likely on political instructions, French justice refrained from intervening”, believes Patrick Baudouin.

“Sébastien Raoult was sacrificed”

“Sébastien Raoult was sacrificed”, indignant Philippe Ohayon. “There is no doubt that the French authorities, in agreement with the American authorities, have agreed to have Sébastien Raoult arrested by the Moroccan authorities, so that he can be extradited, prosecuted and tried in the United States while the other people subject to the U.S. indictment would remain free,” he declares in the complaint with civil action filed on September 30 with the Public Prosecutor of the Paris Court. Complaint for collusion with a foreign power having undermined French jurisdictional sovereignty to the detriment of a French national, and for abuse of authority committed by a person holding public authority who acted to frustrate the execution of the law in the national territory.

Because the lawyer does not intend to stop there. While he in no way disputes the need for mutual criminal assistance in the fight against transnational crime, “This must nevertheless be done in accordance with the law”.

Solicited by The crossthe Ministry of Justice did not wish to express its position on this case.


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