Whitehall anger over Mongolian spy chief release


A Mongolian spymaster whose arrest for extradition on kidnapping charges sparked a crisis between Britain and her emerging Asian ally has returned home after unexpectedly being freed by German authorities.

In a move understood to have raised eyebrows in Whitehall, Germany last week withdrew charges against Bat Khurts, who until this summer had been languishing in Wandsworth prison while a diplomatic and legal battle raged over claims from the Mongolian goverment that he was a victim of entrapment by the British authorities.

The release of Mr Khurts, head of Mongolia's National Security Council, came ahead of a planned visit to the country next week by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mongolian officials said they were "grateful" for the decision, although Germany insisted there was no link between therelease and Mrs Merkel's arrival.

The trial of the spy chief on kidnapping charges had been due to begin in Germany on 24 October after his formal extradition from Britain in August at the request of prosecutors in Berlin.

The Foreign Office said yesterday: "Mr Khurts was extradited to Germany after the passing of the deadline for any appeal. It is not for us to comment on the decisions of the German courts."

The return of Mr Khurts to his position in Ulan Bator represents a remarkable change in fortune for the security chief, who was held on a European arrest warrant as he left an Aeroflot flight at Heathrow in August last year for his alleged part in the kidnapping in 2003 of a Mongolian dissident outside a McDonald's restaurant in the French port of Le Havre.

The security official, described as one of the most senior figures in the Mongolian government, had arrived in London expecting to hold high-level talks with Whitehall officials about closer security co-operation. Sandwiched between Russia and China with huge mineral reserves, Mongolia is considered an increasingly important political and economic ally by Western powers.

The visit of Mr Khurts was arranged after contacts between William Dickson, then British ambassador to Ulan Bator, and Mongolian officials. But the Foreign Office later insisted that no formal invitation had been issued and that the spy chief had travelled to London without any diplomatic status.

The Mongolian government fought the extradition in London's High Court, claiming that the Foreign Office had effectively lured Mr Khurts to Europe to ensure he could be arrested for the 2003 kidnapping.

The legal row plunged Britain's improving relations with Mongolia into crisis, with its government describing the arrest of Mr Khurts as a "grave discourtesy" and officials warning that British business would be frozen out of lucrative contracts in a booming economy.

The Germany Embassy in London was unavailable to comment yesterday but German diplomats in Ulan Bator last week insisted the release of Mr Khurts, who was greeted by Mongolia's deputy Foreign Minister, was a matter for the country's courts.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power