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France Won’t Extradite Spy Suspect

November 18, 1998

PARIS (AP) _ A former British intelligence agent walked out of a Paris prison Wednesday a free man, hours after a French appeals court rejected a request by Britain to extradite him.

David Shayler, 32, who worked for Britain’s internal MI5 intelligence agency from 1994 to 1997, fled to France last year after selling stories about the agency’s operations to a British newspaper. French authorities arrested him Aug. 1 on a request from Scotland Yard.

If he had been deported, Shayler faced being charged under Britain’s Official Secrets Acts and a possible sentence of two years in prison.

Shayler’s two brothers hugged the former spy as he emerged from La Sante prison in southern Paris carrying two cardboard boxes with his personal belongings.

``I am glad to be out of prison. I shouldn’t have had to spend four months in prison for criticizing MI5,″ he said. ``It’s a very happy day for me and for civil liberties and a very sad and embarrassing one for MI5 and the government.″

Shayler sold information on MI5 to a London newspaper for more than $30,000, then traveled to France where lived with his girlfriend in a remote rural region.

At the time of his arrest, British Home Secretary Jack Straw said Shayler had access to highly sensitive information.

No details of the French court’s ruling were made public.

In London, the Home Office said it was up to French prosecutors to decide whether to appeal the ruling.

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