FREE LEONARD HARDY
Concern is growing for the human right of an Irish republican
who is currently languishing in a Spanish jail cell, under
threat of extradition to Germany.
An international arrest warrant issued by German authorities was
outstanding in connection with an attack on a British army base
in Osnabrueck in 1989. Leonard Hardy denies all charges that he
was involved in the incident.
Spain has not yet acknowledged that Mr Hardy, who was arrested
at a hotel at a holiday resort last Wednesday, is qualified for
release, in any event, under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday
As neither Spain nor Germany extradite their own citizens, Mr
Hardy's arrest and detention appear to violate his human rights
as a European citizen.
His wife, Donna Hardy (nee Maguire), said her husband's arrest
and detention was wrong. "All European citizens should be
entitled to the same protections," she said.
A former republican prisoner, Mr Hardy has been living openly in
the 26 Counties since his release from jail in the mid-90s and
regularly travelled abroad on family holidays.
The Belfast man, who now lives across the border in County
Louth, was on a summer break with his wife Donna and four
children when he was arrested.
He was previously arrested in 1989 and charged with possession
After serving five years in prison he was released. Mr Hardy's
then future wife was arrested in the same garda operation and
held for seven months in Mountjoy prison in Dublin before being
cleared of all charges.
Several months later, she was arrested in Belgium. After a
protracted legal process, she was eventually extradited to
Germany and sentenced to six years after the authorities claimed
she was involved in the Osnabrueck attack.
Mrs Hardy's legal team believes her experience over a decade ago
may well have a direct impact on her husband's fate now.
"When I was brought to Germany and sentenced they took into
account the time I had served in Mountjoy in relation to the
Rosslare incident as well as the subsequent time I spent in
jail," said Mrs Hardy.
"They linked the Rosslare incident to the one at Osnabrueck in my
case and took that time off my sentence. Our legal team will
argue that the same terms apply to Leonard if he is extradited
Pressure is growing on the Dublin government to act on the
matter. Mr Hardy's brother, Basil, has visited his brother in a
prison outside Madrid. He said: "They need to be asking for
Leonard Hardy to be sent back to Ireland because the Good Friday
Agreement is in place."
He added: "There is no reason to extradite him over something
that happened over 16 years ago. He has served five years in
jail in Ireland. The Germans should recognise that thsoe five
years were served as part of the wider conflict in Ireland
before the Good Friday Agreement."
Mr Hardy also pointed out the attack took place at a British
Army base, which is considered British soil.
"If the Germans are saying they don't want Leonard Hardy, then
why are the Germans trying to extradite him?"
German authorities are currently finalising their extradition
warrants. It is expected Mr Hardy will apply to the Spanish
courts for bail in the coming days.