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UK refuses to extradite the Duchess of York

London, Sat, 14 Jan 2012 ANI

London, Jan 14 (ANI): The Home Office of UK has refused Turkey's extradition request for the Duchess of York, even though a Turkish court gave her a 22-year prison sentence under criminal charges relating to an undercover documentary about orphanages.


Turkish prosecutors made a formal request to the Home Office to help them gather evidence against the Duchess, Sarah Ferguson, after she and an ITV1 crew filmed children in a state-run orphanage near Ankara.


The country's chief prosecutor charged Ferguson in her absence with 'violating the privacy' of five children, an offence which carries a prison sentence of up to 22 and a half years.


However, a spokesman for UK's Home Office said that no assistance would be given to the Turkish authorities because the Duchess's actions in exposing poor conditions at the orphanage did not constitute a crime in the UK.


"Under UK extradition law a judge must order the discharge of [an extradition request] if it is not an offence under UK law and in the country requesting extradition," the Daily Telegraph quoted the spokesman as saying.


"In this case there is no offence in UK law so there will be no extradition," he said.


However, the 52-year-old Duchess would still face arrest if she ever went back to Turkey.


James Henderson, a spokesman for the Duke of York's former wife, said the charges had 'come as a complete surprise' because the Turkish authorities had said in 2011 that the case was closed.


The possibility of legal action had first been raised shortly after the ITV1 Tonight programme 'Duchess and Daughters: Their Secret Mission' was shown in 2008.


In the programme, Ferguson, disguised in a black wig and headscarf, and her daughter Princess Eugenie, accompanied an undercover team investigating the orphans' living conditions.


It immediately sparked a diplomatic row, with the Turks accusing the Duchess of trying to smear their country as it awaited a report on its application for EU membership.


Henderson said the Duchess's lawyers were working to clarify the position in Turkey in the hope that the charges will be dropped, otherwise she will face a potential lifelong restriction on visiting the country.


The Duchess has already apologised for any embarrassment the documentary had caused Turkey, but insisted she was motivated by humanitarian rather than political reasons. (ANI)


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