Canada Travel Request Could Hit Snag At Conrad Black Hearing Today

By: E&P Staff Convicted former newspaper magnate Conrad Black goes back to federal court in Chicago Wednesday afternoon to renew his request to travel to his native Canada while awaiting sentencing in late November.

But a last-minute filing by prosecutors could complicate his case before U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve.

As reported by Andrew Harris of Bloomberg, prosecutors filed a four-page letter from Thomas Beveridge of the Canadian Department of Justice that bolsters the feds' contention that extraditing Black back to the United States from Canada might be difficult if Black decides to fight.

"Lack of express statutory authority to enforce these prior undertakings gives rise to the possibility of extensive litigation in our courts," Beveridge wrote. The "prior undertakings" are the several waivers of a right to fight extradition that Black has signed in the past, and has said he is willing to sign again.

Black was convicted of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. In a hearing after his conviction, St. Eve extended his $21 million bail, but limited his travels to the Chicago area and to his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. She said at that hearing that she did not think it was in Black's character to flee justice and hide -- but that she did believe it might be in his character to return to Canada and then fight extradition.

Black is in an unusual situation as a convicted felon facing a possibly long prison sentence in U.S. jails. Born in Montreal, he renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2000 in order to accept a peerage in Britain. In the months before his trial, Black, who has the title Lord Black of Crossharbour, spent most of his time at his mansion in Toronto, staying in Canada on a temporary residence permit.

He reportedly had begun the process of getting his Canadian citizenship back, but it is not clear what effect his conviction would have on that application.

His Canadian lawyer, Edward Greenspan, told St. Eve that if Black were in Canada and U.S. prosecutors wanted him returned to Chicago, they would need only make one phone call. The remark caused Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Sussman, who led the prosecution against Black, to scoff, "The notion that with one phone call to Canada I could get anything other than pizza is ridiculous,"

Black's hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. CDT. His lawyers have also been ordered to disclose a clearer picture of Black's financial status at the hearing.


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