American chef Larry Zaitschek says he will fight any attempt to extradite him to Ireland to stand trial in connection with the Castlereagh incident.
The PSNI police announced on Friday they were seeking his extradition in connection with the March 2002 ‘raid’ on Special Branch headquarters at the high security Castlereagh army base.
The Provisional IRA was accused of entering the base, unarmed and unmasked, and removing classified documents from an office at the heart of the base in a very high-risk operation -- allegations that were subsequently dismissed by the IRA.
Republicans have suggested the disappearance of the highly sensitive documents is linked to an ongoing cover-up of Special Branch murder and collusion in its ‘Dirty War’ against the IRA. Former PSNI chief Ronnie Flanagan initially linked the incident to members of the British Crown forces, but subsequently blamed the IRA.
Mr Zaitschek said it was no coincidence that a request for his extradition came on the same day that a court case was held to allow him access to his son, who remains in Ireland.
The PSNI have accused Zaitschek, who had previously worked as a chef at Castlereagh, of conspiring with the IRA to carry out the raid.
Zaitschek has accused police of taking his estranged wife and son into ‘protective’ custody soon after he left for America in an attempt to pressurise him.
The PSNI has been holding my son in a spurious witness protection programme and obstructing any contact between us, in an attempt to force me to give information about the alleged break-in that I simply do not have, he said.
The attempted use of a child as leverage against me should never have been allowed and certainly should not now be permitted to continue.
I will not be used as fodder for the PSNIs failed investigation and I deplore the continued abuse of my son as a political pawn.
Objective observers should be deeply sceptical of the motivation of the PSNI in these proceedings.
I will vigorously resist any extradition request.
Nationalist politicians questioned the timing in seeking the chefs extradition.
Sinn Féin assembly member Michelle Gildnernew pointed out that a Police Ombudsmans report into the circumstances surrounding the Castlereagh break-in had accused the PSNI of having been involved in a campaign of misinformation timed to coincide with political events.
There are those securocrats within the British system intent on undermining efforts to make progress, she said.