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Still no justice as Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan change pleas

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Issue 2383
Babar Ahmed (top) and Talha Ahsan (bottom) in prison

Babar Ahmed (top) and Talha Ahsan (bottom) in prison (Pic: US attorney general)

Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, two British men extradited to the US in October last year after long court cases, appeared in court in New Haven yesterday, Tuesday, and changed their pleas to guilty.

In the US 97 percent of federal cases in 2012 ended in guilty pleas. This allows the accused to “plea bargain”—a guilty plea is exchanged for a dramatically reduced sentence.

If found guilty without a plea bargain, Talha would have faced a sentence of 70 years. This is now reduced to 15, which will include the years he has already been detained. Babar could still face a 25 year sentence. They will now also have the possibility of serving time in a British prison.

Talha’s brother Hamja Ahsan told Socialist Worker, “We are just hoping that the UK and US governments work together so that I can get my brother home as soon as possible.”

Moazzam Begg of Cage Prisoners said, “We must be careful against seeing this as an admission of guilt. Rather, Babar had little choice but to make this decision after finding himself amid torturous conditions within the impossible labyrinth of US injustice.

“This episode is a damning indictment of a system that does not rest until it saps its victims’ hope and tramples their dignity underfoot.”

Babar Ahmad spent eight years fighting extradition to the US. Talha also fought from the time of his arrest in 2006. The men have been held in solitary confinement in “supermax” prisons since they were extradited. 

The two are charged under terrorism laws, accused of running websites which supported Islamist fighters in Chechnya and Afghanistan.

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