Marc Emery, the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and now imprisoned in the U.S. has been denied a routine transfer to a Canadian prison to serve out his sentence. It means that he will likely spend the majority of his five-year sentence in US federal prison, according to a posting on the Cannabis Culture site.
Unusually, neither Emery nor his lawyer were told of the refusal, but heard it from the Canadian consulate, which had apparently been in conversation with U.S. justice authorities.
The US government said it would not approve his treaty transfer back to Canada due to "the seriousness of the offence" and "law enforcement concerns".
Emery was extradited to the US in May 2010 after a lengthy court battle. He had been arrested for selling marijuana seeds through the mail. While he ran a profitable business, even the Drug Enforcement Administration in the US acknowledged that much of the money went into funding groups that campaigned for the decriminalization and the legalization of pot possession.
"This refusal is a terrible affront to the sovereignty of Canada," said Emery's Canadian counsel, Kirk Tousaw. "Marc is a target of political persecution that appears to have transcended his conviction and now infects the treaty transfer process. He qualifies under every relevant factor and should have been allowed to serve out his jail term in Canada, close to his wife Jodie and in the country in which all of his activity took place. We call upon Prime Minister Harper and the leaders of the Liberal Party and NDP to stand up for this Canadian hero and demand his immediate repatriation."
Ironically, this decision has come in the same week when Canada's national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, published a lead editorial in favour of decrimininalizing marijuana, which is what Emery has been campaigning for for many years and for which he is now paying the price.
The Globe reported that, in addition to denying Emery the transfer, US authorities have moved him from a minimum- to a medium-security prison in Mississippi. His lawyer speculated that this was because of displeasure over the regular blog that Emery published, criticizing the conditions where he was held. (We wrote last year about Emery blogging and podcasting from jail. He was put in solitary confinement for podcasting.)
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