Socialist Worker

Talha Ahsan remains in immigration centre due to British passport delays

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2417

Welcome Home Talha rally outside the Home Office in London

Welcome Home Talha rally outside the Home Office in London (Pic: Be Windsor)


A hundred people gathered outside the Home Office in London last Sunday to welcome home Talha Ahsan.  

Unfortunately Talha could not be there. Despite being freed by a US court, he is now held in a US prison  waiting to come home.

Talha’s father Abu Ahsan told Socialist Worker, “Talha was freed on 16 July, but now it’s 17 August and he’s still not home. 

“There are a lot of formalities. His passport expired in 2011. So when they extradited him in 2012 it wasn’t valid and now he needs a new one before he can come back. 

“He rang yesterday and thinks it will be very soon.”

Talha and co-defendant Babar Ahmad were accused of offering support to terrorism because of a website they were involved with in 2001. They accepted a plea bargain under the US system. 

They pled guilty and were given a sentence that in Talha’s case meant he was immediately freed from the prison he was in.

“Talha is strong and educated,” said Abu. “He reads and writes. He replied to all the letters he got. That is how he survived being locked in a cell for 23 hours a day.”

Model

Talha’s brother Hamja told the rally that although Talha had been a model prisoner he was kept in solitary confinement.

His legs were shackled while he showered. He was strip searched each time he saw his parents and was denied access to the library. He was not allowed to talk to anyone. 

Hamja pointed out that 50 percent of the suicides in US prisons are carried out by people in solitary confinement.

The campaign has complained about the treaty that allows British citizens to be taken to the US without any evidence.

“We have won on principle,” Abu said. “Theresa May should repeal the unbalanced, unfair law that allowed Talha to be extradited.

“Anyone can be taken from the UK. We’re not just talking about Talha. This could be anybody.”

At the end of the sentencing hearing, judge Janet C Hall who passed sentence in Connecticut also stated, “There is no way to rationalise the sentences” the US government had recommended. 

She said, “In my view jihad does not equal terrorism. In a perversion of what Islam teaches, terrorists have misappropriated the concept of jihad from its true meaning—struggle. But jihad is not what happened on 9/11.”

She described Talha and his co-defendant Babar Ahmad each as being as “a good person”.

She said there was no evidence that Talha supported Al Qaida.


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