On June 20th an article by the BBC’s Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield appeared on the ‘Europe’ page of the BBC News website under the headline “The fake French minister in a silicone mask who stole millions”.
Under the sub-heading “Whodunnit?” readers were told that:
“The case is now under judicial investigation in France, with suspicions centring on a convicted French-Israeli con-artist called Gilbert Chikli.
He is currently in jail in Paris following extradition from Ukraine and faces charges of organised fraud and usurpation of identity.
Chikli, of Tunisian Jewish background, grew up in the working-class Belleville neighbourhood of northeast Paris.
In 2015, Chikli was found guilty of scamming money out of French corporations by pretending to be their chief executive. But by this time he was living in the safety of Israel, which refuses to extradite its nationals.” [emphasis added]
As we see, Schofield found it appropriate to inform BBC audiences of the suspect’s ethnic and religious background even though that is of no relevance to the case.
Schofield’s claim that Israel “refuses to extradite its nationals” is inaccurate.
Under the terms of Israel’s Extradition Law Israeli nationals can be extradited to countries with which Israel has an extradition agreement or treaty such as Holland, the UK and the US. Although France is not one of those countries, extraditions from Israel to France have taken place. In the past France has refused to extradite French citizens to Israel.
As noted on the website of Israel’s Ministry of Justice:
“One of the main functions of the Department of International Affairs is the location and extradition of criminals who have escaped from Israel, as well as the location and extradition of criminals who have escaped to Israel from abroad. Within this framework the Department maintains day-to-day contact with the parallel authorities in other countries from all over the world, and also with the enforcement agencies in Israel – including investigation and prosecution units and the Interpol Unit at the Israel Police. […]
During recent years, offenders who have committed serious and sophisticated crimes, sometimes within the framework of organized crime, have been extradited from Israel to different countries, notwithstanding that they committed the crimes without leaving Israel’s borders.”
Clearly Schofield’s materially misleading claim requires correction.