Cyprus extradition riles US lobbyists

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A Chinese mother and son’s fight against extradition from Cyprus to face fraud charges has attracted criticism by US-based right-wing lobby groups who claim the case is politically motivated.

Cyprus police said the mother, 61, and her son, 39, were arrested on December 8 under a warrant issued by Chinese authorities for alleged investment fraud in China between March 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014.

The pair are due to appear before the Paphos District Court for the resumption of their extradition hearing on Friday.

A US pro-democracy organization supported by former US President Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon has contacted Cypriot authorities to demand that the extradition request be rejected, Cypriot media said.

The mother and son have been described as members of the New Federal State of China, a US-based political movement lobbying against the Chinese government.

The group is tied to exiled Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui and Bannon, a China hawk.

The two also had links to another US group that lobbied against China, the Rule of Law Foundation.

The justice and interior ministries received a letter from the Rule of Law Foundation, an organization aiming to “protect individuals speaking out against corruption and illegal activities in China,” Politis daily said.

“China has a proven record of falsely accusing people outside the country in hopes they would end actions against the Chinese Communist Party,” Politis quoted the letter as saying.

The paper said the Chinese suspects acquired Cypriot residency through investment.

Defence lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou told Politis that the case against his clients was “politically motivated.”

“Hidden behind the extradition is political persecution because of their ties to a political movement, the New Federal State of China, headquartered in the United States,” he said.

Cyprus would prefer to keep the case low-profile as it has an extradition treaty with China and good diplomatic ties with Washington.

When asked about the case, a US embassy spokesperson said: “Yes. We are aware of the story.”