Urgent letter to Croatian Minister of Justice: Do not extradite whistleblower Jonathan Taylor


Mr. Ivan Malenica

Minister of Justice

Ulica grada Vukovara 49

Maksimirska 63

10 000 Zagreb

Republic of Croatia


Tuesday 18 May 2021


Dear Minister,

Jonathan Taylor is a whistleblower; he is a witness to a crime who has cooperated with law enforcement bodies in seven different jurisdictions and should be protected as such.  He has been in Croatia for nearly 10 months appealing against a request for extradition from Monaco.  Now that the Supreme Court of Croatia has issued its judgment, the final decision on whether or not to extradite Mr. Taylor is up to you, the Minister of Justice.

The Supreme Court of Croatia fully recognises Mr. Taylor’s status as a whistleblower and for the reasons we set out below, we urge you, the Minister of Justice, to refuse Monaco’s abusive request to extradite Mr. Taylor to Monaco and to allow him to return home to the United Kingdom immediately.  

Mr. Taylor is a British national who, during the course of his employment as a lawyer for the Dutch-listed oil industry firm SBM Offshore N.V., with its main office in the Principality of Monaco, uncovered one of the largest corruption and bribery scandals in the world that resulted in criminal investigations in the United Kingdom, United States of America, Netherlands, Switzerland and Brazil. His evidence contributed to the company paying fines amounting to over US$800 million and, to date, the imprisonment of three individuals directly involved in the scandal, including the former CEO of SBM Offshore N.V.

Monaco to date has failed to initiate a single criminal investigation into highly credible and well documented allegations of bribery and corruption on the part of SBM Offshore.  Instead, it has targeted the one person who blew the whistle and brought public scrutiny to such widespread financial crimes.

On 30 July 2020, over eight years after blowing the whistle on corruption, Jonathan travelled to Dubrovnik, Republic of Croatia for a family holiday.  He was arrested at the airport on the basis of a communication issued by Monaco on what was originally stated to be allegations of bribery and corruption. Not only do these allegations have no proper basis in law or fact and constitute an abuse of process but crucially, Mr. Taylor, his lawyers and the Croatian Courts have since been informed in writing that Mr. Taylor is wanted for questioning to determine whether or not to charge him.

At no stage did the law enforcement or judicial authorities in Monaco seek his extradition from the United Kingdom, where Mr. Taylor has lived since 2013, until he was apprehended in Dubrovnik, for the very reason that they knew it would not succeed.

Mr. Taylor has made it clear since 2017, when he first became aware that his former employer, the Dutch listed SBM Offshore N.V. had lodged a criminal complaint in Monaco three years earlier, that he would answer any questions the authorities had of him from the United Kingdom, either remotely or in person.  And since his unlawful detention in Croatia, the offer to answer questions there has been repeated on the agreement that he is able to return home to the United Kingdom.

For Jonathan to be returned to Monaco to face questioning in order to determine whether charges should be laid amounts to a clear act of retaliation for his having disclosed the corrupt practices of a major offshore oil firm and one of the largest private sector employers in the small principality.

In March 2021, after the Supreme Court of Croatia partially upheld a second appeal against extradition, the Dubrovnik court was ordered to seek further clarification from the Monegasque authorities regarding the status of the criminal proceedings for which Mr. Taylor was allegedly charged.  A letter from the Director of Judicial Services in Monaco sent on 1 March 2021 confirmed there Mr. Taylor is not charged with anything as there are no criminal proceedings, nor is there any execution of a judgement for which he is wanted – which are the only two valid legal bases for seeking extradition.  In fact, Interpol confirmed yet again on the 23rd March 2021 that Mr. Taylor is no longer subject to Interpol Red Notice. This after Monaco withdrew the arrest warrant in December 2020.

Further, now that Mr. Taylor’s status as a whistleblower has been confirmed by the Supreme Court of Croatia, even if the Minister accepts that conditions for extradition have been met, in light of Croatia’s duties and obligations under the EU Directive on the protection of whistleblowers and the clearly retaliatory nature of the Monegasque request to extradite Mr. Taylor for questioning, we humbly submit that the decision by the Minister should be to reject it.

Croatia is part of the European Union and one of the 27 Member States which must transpose the EU Directive on the protection of whistleblowers into its national legal system by December 2021. The Directive seeks to harmonise protections for those who report wrongdoing and corruption across Europe. It is crucial that Croatia upholds both the spirit and obligations of the Directive to ensure that whistleblowers are protected by law and this includes ensuring they are immune from civil and criminal liability for having blown the whistle. In a case of such serious corruption like this one, it is essential that vital anti-corruption whistleblower protections do not fall down between borders. To do otherwise, allows those involved in corruption to send a chilling warning to whistleblowers and investigative journalists across the globe that undermines all the efforts of the European Union and the Croatian Government to prevent and root out the corruption that undermines the fabric of its societies and the well-being of its people.

For these very important reasons, and because of his protected status as a whistleblower, we, the undersigned, urge you, the Minister of Justice, to uphold the Rule of Law, reject the extradition order and allow Jonathan Taylor to return home immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Myers, Executive Director, Whistleblowing International Network

on behalf of the Jonathan Taylor Support Committee

With support from:

Access Info Europe (Spain/Europe)

African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (Nigeria)

ARTICLE 19 (United Kingdom)

Blueprint for Free Speech (Australia)

Campax, Switzerland

Center for Whistleblowers Protection (Slovenia)

Centre for Free Expression (Canada)

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

FIND – Financial Investigations (UK)

Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands)

General Workers Union Portugal (UGT-P)

GlobaLeaks (Italy)

Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers (United Kingdom)

Human Rights House Zagreb (Croatia)

Le Réseau Panafricain de Lutte contre la Corruption (UNIS)

Maison des Lanceurs d’Alerte (France)

OBC Transeuropa

Parrhesia Inc (UK)

Pištaljka (Serbia)

Protect (United Kingdom)

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), (Austria)

SpeakOut SpeakUp Ltd (United Kingdom)

Terra Cypria-the Cyprus Conservation Foundation (Cyprus)

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation (Malta)

The Signals Network (USA/France)

Transparency International (Secretariat, Germany)

Transparency International Bulgaria

Transparency International EU

Transparency International Ireland

Transparency International Italia

Transparency International Slovenia

Vanja Jurić, Attorney at law (Croatia)

WBN – Whistleblower Netzwerk (Germany)

Whistleblowers UK



Baroness Kramer, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Whistleblowing

Dr John O’Connor Physician and Whistleblower (Canada)

Martin Bright, Editor, Index on Censorship (United Kingdom)

Peter Matjašič, Senior Program Officer, Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE)

Professor David Lewis, Middlesex University. (United Kingdom)

Professor Wim Vandekerckhove, University of Greenwich (United Kingdom)

Susan Hawley, Executive Director, Spotlight on Corruption (UK)

Thomas Devine, Legal Director, Government Accountability Project (USA)

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British whistleblower held overnight in Croatian psychiatric hospital

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”116596″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]A British oil industry whistleblower was detained last night by armed police in Zagreb and held overnight against his will in a psychiatric hospital after British diplomats raised concerns about his mental health.

Jonathan Taylor has been stranded in Croatia since July last year, when he was arrested while entering the country for a holiday with his family. The authorities in Monaco, where he worked for oil company SBM Offshore, have accused him of extortion and requested his extradition to the Principality. He is awaiting a decision from the Croatian Supreme Court this week.

In 2013, Taylor blew the whistle on a multimillion dollar network of bribery payments made by SBM around the world and cooperated with prosecutors in the UK, the US, Brazil and the Netherlands. These investigations resulted in fines against the company to the tune of $827 million and the conviction of two former CEOs of SBM for fraud-related offences. However, Monaco has decided to target the whistleblower rather than those responsible for the bribes.

Freedom of expression organisations, including Index on Censorship, have been lobbying the British government to put pressure on Monaco and Croatia to allow Taylor to return England where his family is now based. Media Freedom Rapid Response partners have demanded an end the extradition proceedings.

Taylor had alerted the British Embassy and the Sofia-based regional consul last Friday about his deteriorating mental health and was asked to put his thoughts into writing. This set off a train of events in Zagreb that Jonathan Taylor relates in his own words here:

“I was met by two armed officers at the roadside to the entrance of the forecourt to my apartment at about 9:15pm last night. I was told I had to wait with them until a psychiatrist arrived in an ambulance. After about 45 minutes we went up to my apartment as it had started raining and the ambulance still hadn’t arrived.

“At about 10:15pm the ambulance drivers arrived and joined the two policemen in my apartment. I was then told I had to accompany them to hospital. I protested stating I had been told a psychiatrist would come to me. I made it clear I was not prepared to leave the apartment. Then four more other armed officers arrived. I again explained I was not happy to go to hospital (see picture top).

“Eventually two of the armed officers manhandled me to the ground causing my head to hit a wall and a resulting headache. I was the cuffed with face against the floor and manhandled out of my apartment into an ambulance where I was strapped into a stretcher. Upon arrival at hospital (no idea where I am) I was dragged out of ambulance and sat on a chair just inside the door to the hospital. I was left there under guard, still handcuffed, for about 30 minutes.

“A lady came to see me (apparently a psychiatrist, but she did not introduce herself) and she asked a few basic questions like ‘why did I arrive with the police?’ and ‘how long had they been following me?’ (!).

“Shortly after this I was taken to a room, still cuffed, where I was strapped to a bed by my feet and legs and my hands. I then refused unidentified tablets and was invited to swallow them whilst someone held a cup of water to my mouth. I refused. I was then forcibly turned and something was injected into my upper thigh. It was now at least 12:30am. At about 6:30am, again against my will, I had a further injection. Another psychiatrist came to see me at about 10:15am and she determined I could go…

“A smiling male nurse has just prodded my arm saying ‘everything will be OK, don’t hate Croatia now!” I have just discovered that I am at the University Hospital Vrapte. What to say?…Where I was looking for help, I got one of the worst twelve-hour experiences of my life.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][three_column_post title=”You may also want to read” category_id=”256″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Croatia: Journalists targeted after reporting on sentences imposed on “war criminals”


Journalists who referred to Slobodan Praljak, seen here in 2013, and his co-defendants as war criminals after their conviction have been targeted by parties who think the men are heroes. (Photo: UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia)

Journalists who referred to Slobodan Praljak, seen here in 2013, and his co-defendants as war criminals after their conviction have been targeted by parties who think the men are heroes. (Photo: UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia)

Several journalists and news outlets from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina faced death threats and intimidation following their coverage a war crimes trial at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands.

In the ruling ending the case, six Bosnian Croat leaders were sentenced on several charges for an ethnic cleansing campaign against Muslim Bosniaks during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

One of the six defendants was Slobodan Praljak, who committed suicide during the delivery of the court’s verdict by potassium cyanide. Just a seconds before taking the poison, the defendant addressed the court: “Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal! I reject your judgment with contempt!”

What was supposed to be an easy task, writing a news report from a trial, turned out to be a quite delicate situation. The problem stems from how reporters should refer to the convicted men. War criminals or heroes?

For the conservative and right-wing politicians, currently in power in Croatia, the case is clear. The defendants are heroes, regardless of what court has said. Therefore, Praljak and the other five defendants, in line with the nationalistic narrative, should be praised as heroes, while his suicide is seen as a highly moral act. In line with this, the majority of politicians in the Croatian Parliament held a minute’s silence honouring Praljak. Even the Croatian prime minister, Andrej Plenković, said that the UN court’s verdict was a “deep moral injustice” becoming, as the Guardian reported, the first head of an EU government in support of a convicted war criminal. Later, following the national and international critics, Plenković back-pedalled in his narrative, even though keeping “but” in his argumentation.

In this kind of fraught environment the professional media were supposed to objectively inform the public. For those media workers that used “war criminal” to describe Praljak and other five defendants,  what followed was a nightmare. A series of death threats, intimidations, insults and bullying, mainly via social media, were issued against all those outlets and journalists who described Praljak as a sentenced war criminal, or were critically analysing Croatia’s involvement in the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

In just a few days, Croatian news website Index.hr and its journalists received tens of serious death threats, including bomb and napalm threats. As reported by the site, the threats included: “I will fuck your treacherous mother. You are a dead man”; and “there will be time when your 18-year-old daughter will be walking alone around the town.”

Nataša Božić Šarić, editor and host of a political talk show Točka na tjedan (Point for the Week), which is aired on regional private broadcaster N1, received death threats and insults on Facebook after the show. Her question to the guests “should the sentenced be stripped of awarded medals?” was considered as provocation by conservative and right-wing viewers.

The most recent report from the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) says that the latest in the long line of intimidated journalists is daily Jutarnji list op-ed Jurica Pavičić. He was threaten for his critical column on the Croatian Parliament’s decision to hold a minute’s silence for the defendants.

The Praljak case resulted in similar rhetoric and threats in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the war crimes were committed. Sanel Kajan, a journalist and correspondent for the regional private broadcaster Al Jazeera Balkans (AJB), received threats from his fellow citizens, Bosnian Croats, for using his voice for the announcement of a special show on the ICTY trial on AJB and for sharing colleagues’ pieces on Facebook.

“I received a ton of threatening messages via Facebook,” Kajan told Index on Censorship. “At the beginning I was just deleting them, but once I realized the gravity, as threats were multiplying every minute, I decided to report the case to the police,” he said. Among the numerous Facebook messages there were death threats like “You won’t be alive for a long time. I promise you this”; and a religious-based ones like “Shame on you, you unbaptised Satan”.

This is not the first time these kind of threats have been “provoked” by objective reporting while nationalistic reports have been praised as true, patriotic journalism. Similar incidents have happened in all post-conflict Balkan states. In recent years, Mapping Media Freedom has documented similar cases in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia. In all those cases media workers were threatened, intimidated and bullied for questioning nationalistic dogmas.

Zdenko Duka, a well-respected Croatian journalist and former president of HND pointed out that there is plurality in the society which is backed by professional and critical media. “But unfortunately the ruling elite is pushing towards nationalistic rhetoric as a compensation for their incompetence and cowardness,” Duka said. Elaborating on the power dynamics he said that “the Catholic Church and the war veterans” are influencing Croatian politics through the ruling conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). “Veterans are a privileged group with 2-3 times higher average pensions than the rest of the citizens,” Duka explained.

Croatia’s public and politicians have applied doubles standards to the ICTY verdicts: The court is praised when others are found guilty, but denounced as corrupt when it convicts “heroes”. For years this line of argument has been validated in the public discourse. Srdjan Puhalo, a political analyst from Bosnia and Herzegovina, calls this phenomenon the “moral incompleteness” of the Balkan societies.

“Nowadays is hard to critically analyse the 90s wars. If you write critically you will be called a traitor, and everybody knows what one should do with traitors. Bottom line is that it is you against the system which is backing up the 90s ‘heroes’,” Puhalo said. The only exit out of this vicious circle, according to him, is time. “At the end, only the verdicts will stay throughout history and everything else will be forgotten,” Puhalo concludes.

It is even more important that these kinds of threats against press freedom are not minimised and left unpunished.

“If there will be no concrete action/investigation/outcome out of this then the message will be loud and clear: You are free to intimidate them, and journalists should shut up,” Kajan said.

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Index on Censorship monitors press freedom in 42 European countries.

Since 24 May 2014, Mapping Media Freedom’s team of correspondents and partners have recorded and verified more than 3,700 violations against journalists and media outlets.

Index campaigns to protect journalists and media freedom. You can help us by submitting reports to Mapping Media Freedom.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator color=”black”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Don’t lose your voice. Stay informed.” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_separator color=”black”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship is a nonprofit that campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide. We publish work by censored writers and artists, promote debate, and monitor threats to free speech. We believe that everyone should be free to express themselves without fear of harm or persecution – no matter what their views.

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