Cannabis seed dealer successfully fights US extradition bid

A US Government bid to extradite a British cannabis seed dealer has been blocked by the High Court.

Gypsy Nirvana, of London, whose trade in the seeds is legal in the UK, has been fighting extradition to the US since 2013.

US authorities, who describe him as a "marijuana activist and advocate", accused him of conspiring to manufacture, distribute, import and export marijuana seeds and wanted him to face charges in the state of Maine.

But the 57-year-old declared himself a "free man" on Thursday after two leading judges ruled against the US.

Mr Justice Leggatt and Mr Justice Holgate upheld an earlier ruling that Mr Nirvana should not be extradited because his seed-dealing operation was not illegal under UK law.

Speaking outside court after the hearing, Mr Nirvana said: "A great weight has been taken off my head.

"So far as I'm concerned I'm just a cannabis seed dealer.

"I'm not involved in producing those seeds, I just buy them and then I sell them.

"I am a peaceful, loving man and I'm not interested in all this police activity."

He said he will now concentrate his efforts on being reunited with his wife Leah and their two children, who live in the Philippines.

Mr Nirvana added: "Now I'm a free man, I'm going to work on getting to see my family again."

His lawyers told the court that, while his business is legal in the UK, trading cannabis seeds is "expressly criminalised" under US law.

Ben Cooper of Doughty Street Chambers, representing Mr Nirvana, said: "The exceptional fact of this case is that my client was solely concerned with the distribution of cannabis seeds, which is lawful under English law."

A district judge ruled in August last year that, because selling and buying the seeds is not an offence in the UK, Mr Nirvana should not be extradited.

The judge said Mr Nirvana was not "offering guidance" on how to grow cannabis plants and had "no interest" in the plants or its leaves - only the seeds.

Mr Nirvana was arrested at his then home in the Philippines in August 2013 after US authorities issued an international arrest warrant.

He spent 30 months in a Manila prison, where he said he was kept in poor conditions alongside "real criminals", before being deported to the UK in March 2016.

His lawyers told the court an earlier attempt to deport him was made in September 2013, but he "successfully resisted his removal" when he found out the plane he was due to travel on had a scheduled stop in the US before continuing to the UK.