A mother and son from China facing extradition in Cyprus on investment fraud charges have been released on bail, with a Paphos judge allowing them to walk free citing prosecution paperwork delays.
Two Chinese nationals in the Republic of Cyprus, who are being sought by Chinese authorities on investment fraud charges, were released on a €25,000 bail each on Friday, when a district judge in Paphos ordered a recess to allow more time for prosecutors to complete all the necessary paperwork.
Details were not immediately available but media reports pointed to prosecutorial paperwork not signed by Cyprus’ foreign minister in time to be submitted in court.
“Without authorization, there can be no extradition"
“Extradition can only begin after the minister has authorized the extradition request,” the defense lawyer was quoted as saying, suggesting the paperwork needed by the court had not been authorized.
According to the defense attorney in the case, Cyprus’ foreign minister did not have time to authorize the extradition paperwork, while pointing out the document had been sent by Chinese authorities to the Cypriot embassy in Beijing.
Earlier this month, the Cypriot government had received a letter from an American organization seeking to 'protect individuals speaking out against corruption and illegal activities in China'
“Without authorization, there can be no extradition,” he said.
The mother-son duo, who were awaiting their extradition hearing behind bars in Nicosia prior to their release, were detained early December in Peyia on investment fraud charges in connection with financial crimes under investigation in China, said to have taken place between March 2013 and March 2014.
But the extradition case goes beyond paperwork and procedures, as Cyprus has found itself in the middle of a politically-charged extradition battle involving interests in China and the United States.
Both Washington and Beijing are said to have good diplomatic relations with Nicosia.
Earlier this month, the Cypriot government had received a letter about the case from an American organization seeking to “protect individuals speaking out against corruption and illegal activities in China.”
The group, tied to wealthy Chinese exile Guo Wengui and Steve Bannon, a China hawk who was Donald Trump’s former advisor, said the charges against mother and son were “politically motivated.”
Bannon, who parted ways with the network, was arrested in August 2020 on Guo’s yacht, raising questions about fraud investigations and further renewing mystery surrounding the non-profit owned by the real estate tycoon who fled China in 2014.
Guo, also known as Miles Kwok, is a self-styled crusader against corruption in China who drew the ire of the Chinese government but has also been sued by other Chinese dissidents.
Both mother and son have been described as members of New Federal State of China, a movement that plans to overthrow the Chinese government.
The next hearing has been scheduled for February 3.