Louth republican Liam Campbell has been extradited to Lithuania after being arrested by Gardai police on Monday. He was handed over to Lithuanian authorities at Dublin Airport.
Supporters of Mr Campbell have described the 12-year-long effort to extradite him as “a witch-hunt”.
Although never having visited Lithuania, and never having been charged with any offence there, Mr Campbell has been accused of attempting to secure weapons for the breakaway Real IRA in 2006 or 2007.
In 2011, Liam’s brother Michael was convicted and imprisoned on weapons charged following a bizarre ‘sting’ entrapment organised by MI5. However, in two years later, he was acquitted of all charges after a court accepted he had been framed.
At the time, his lawyer said “a person cannot be sentenced for a crime committed by state officials. He was acquitted because the court found that what he was accused of was a provocation. It was just an activity of the state security services.”
In an unexpected and highly controversial decision, the Supreme Court in Dublin ruled earlier this month that the state could go ahead with the extradition. It ended a long legal battle in which Mr Campbell had appealed against both the High Court ruling for his extradition, as well as the Court of Appeal’s upholding of that decision.
The current extradition attempt by Dublin began in December 2016 after two separate attempts to extradite him from the north of Ireland were rejected by the courts there. During the second attempt to extradite him, he was forced to spend four years in custody in Maghaberry.
It is understood Mr Campbell is now being held in Kaunas Remand Prison, notorious for human rights abuses, where he faces questioning by Lithuanian authorities regarding the MI5 allegations.
The Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group, which successfully campaigned for Michael’s release, have called for an end to the “hounding” of his brother.
“We hope that, in conjunction with the campaign in Ireland, we contributed towards Michael’s release in October 2013,” they said.
“But now it is the Free State government and parliament which has obliged its five obedient Supreme Court judges to do what the administration of the occupied Six Counties refused to do, and extradite Liam.
“Surely a message of more abject subservience to the British monarchy and Empire we could not get.”