GENEVA (Reuters) - Kenya is considering a request from Beijing to extradite 76 Chinese nationals charged with cyber crime for trial in their homeland, Kenya's attorney-general said on Thursday.
Githu Muigai said he expected a decision soon on the request from a "friendly government" with which Kenya has strong trade and industrial ties.
Some 76 Chinese nationals have been detained by Kenyan police investigating allegations of cyber crime, operating private radio services and being in the country illegally, their lawyers said on Dec. 5.
"We have received requests from the government of China, which is a friendly government, to surrender these persons to be prosecuted for offences in China ... A decision will be made in the very near future," Muigai told reporters in Geneva.
Any agreement would have to meet Kenya's justice standards, he said, adding their alleged criminality involved "the security of banking, credit cards and other operations".
"I would not be surprised if the majority of the persons arrested were mere operatives and who probably wouldn't attract a sentence beyond five years," he added.
"But there are major masterminds of what the Chinese government itself has stated to be international criminal elements. And obviously around them there would be more serious charges and probably more severe penalties."
Muigai, speaking to the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier in the day, said Kenya had undertaken wide-ranging reforms to improve access to justice and the rule of law.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Andrew Roche