BABAR AHMAD, the British Muslim IT worker imprisoned without charge in HMP Woodhill, appeared in court last week for an extradition hearing to the US.
Babar faces being handed over to US anti-terrorism authorities under the Extradition Act 2003, which came into force in January this year.
The act allows the US to extradite any British citizen without having to provide any evidence to support the extradition request. All the US authorities have to do is make written allegations.
Babar’s case is the first time these new powers have been used. Under the act he does not have the right to challenge the allegations against him in court.
The Extradition Act was fast tracked into British legislation last year, without being debated or examined in parliament. Britain is the only country in the European Union to come to such an arrangement with the US.
The act is not reciprocal—if the British government wanted to extradite a US citizen it would have to prove it had a reasonable case in an American court.
The US extradition request against Babar is flimsy in the extreme.
It alleges that he administered a website, azzam.com, which had a bulletin board where participants discussed support for rebel groups in Chechnya and Afghanistan.
Babar is also alleged to be involved in a plot to attack US navy vessels.
The “evidence” for this ludicrous claim amounts to a single email that was sent to him by an US enlisted serviceman.
The civil liberties campaign group Watching Them Watching Us has examined the extradition order served against Babar. Its analysis can be found online » here
“There is nothing in the indictment which alleges that azzam.com actually collected any money online, or that Babar Ahmad was actually sending any money to Chechnya or Afghanistan himself,” it notes.
Babar was initially arrested under British anti-terrorism legislation in December 2003.
He was released without charge six days later. During his time in custody he was badly beaten up.
Last month the Crown Prosecution Service said they would not to press a case against the police officers accused of attacking Babar, claiming there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute.