Sunday, June 26 2016

ECHR opens door for extradition of Babar Ahmad to the US

BBC News, the Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star and Sun have all reported on the outcome of a lengthy legal battle involving five men, including Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan and Abu Hamza, fighting extradition to the US to stand trial on terrorism charges.

From the Guardian:

“The European court of human rights has cleared the way for the extradition to the United States of five terrorism suspects, including Abu Hamza al-Masri and Babar Ahmad, after legal battles dating back to 2004.

“The decision was immediately welcomed by the home secretary, Theresa May, who said the Home Office would work to hand over the five to the US authorities as quickly as possible.

“The suspects involved include the radical cleric Abu Hamza, 54, who is wanted by the US in connection with plans to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, as well as allegations that he provided material support to the Taliban. He is also wanted in connection with allegations that he was involved in hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998.

All defendants have argued that extradition to the US and the prospect of life in a ‘supermax’ prison would contravene their human rights. The ECHR ruling, agreeing with a previous judgment, decided that “their human rights would not be violated by the prospect of life sentences and solitary confinement in an American "supermax" prison."

Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan have fought long campaigns to stand trial in the UK.  Ahmad’s case has received significant public and media attention with an e-petition calling for a Westminster debate on his case exceeding the 100,000 signatures needed. Ahmad has been detained without trial in the UK for eight years - the longest detention period of any British citizen. During this time, he has not been charged with any criminal offence. The BBC also broadcast an interview with Ahmad earlier this year given the extraordinary nature of his case.

The article cites a statement from the family of Babar Ahmad: "The CPS is now in possession of all that material which forms the basis of the US indictment and should immediately prosecute Babar for conduct allegedly committed in the UK.

The article continues that “There is enormous public interest in Babar being prosecuted in the UK, as reflected by the fact that almost 150,000 members of the British public signed a government e-petition to this effect last year. A British businessman, Karl Watkins, has recently commenced his own private prosecution of Babar based on the principle of the matter."

The UK-US extradition treaty upon which these cases rest has courted significant controversy and the Home Affairs select committee in April this year called for it to be ‘overhauled’. It is notable that coverage in the tabloid papers - Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star and Sun - focuses predominantly on the case of ‘radical Muslim cleric’ Abu Hamza, whilst paying far less attention to the cases of Ahmad and Ahsan, whose extradition to the US is far more controversial.

The campaign group, British Justice for British Citizens, are asking people to support the private prosecution launched by Karl Watkins on public interest grounds by writing to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, and to their local MP. Details on what you can do to support the campaign can be found here.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 September 2012 17:06

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