Babar Ahmad is a British citizen on the brink of being extradited to the US to face "terrorism" charges trumped up by American prosecutors, most likely to help British police get their own back on him for successfully challenging their brutality and racism. A public outcry is his best chance of justice.
The Hounding of Babar Ahmad
Babar Ahmad was born and brought up in South London.
In December 2003 he was arrested by Anti-Terrorist Police who broke into his house in a pre-dawn raid. He was then brutally assaulted in front of his wife. He sustained over 50 injuries to his body, two of which were life-threatening. During this attack Babar was placed in the prayer position and asked, "Where is your God now?"
After six days of intensive investigation he was released without charge.
Babar immediately filed a complaint against the police officers who assaulted him. Despite photographic evidence of his injuries, the Crown Office maintained for years that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the police officers involved. But in 2009 Babar Ahmad won a civil case against the police, who in the end admitted full responsibility for subjecting him to grave abuse tantamount to torture. In September 2010 four Metropolitan police officers appeared in court charged with causing actual bodily harm (ABH) to Babar Ahmad during and after his arrest. ABH is a relatively minor charge. Allegations of assault or battery causing serious injuries would normally result in prosecution for grievous bodily harm (GBH).
On 5th August 2004 Babar was re-arrested on an Extradition Warrant from the United States of America. He has been in jail ever since.
Babar Ahmad has spent longer in jail without charge than any other British citizen (although some foreign citizens have been jailed without charge in Britain for even longer).
The US charges mainly relate to Babar Ahmad's internet activism, all of it carried out from the UK. The claim of US jurisdiction is based entirely on the fact that one of many websites with which Babar Ahmad was associated happened to be hosted on a server in Connecticut. It is outrageous that a British citizen should be prosecuted in the US for crimes allegedly committed in Britain.
The US evidence against Baber Ahmad, it now turns out, is precisely the evidence that the Metropolitan Police seized from him in December 2003 and which the Crown Prosecution Service decided was incapable of supporting a prosecution.
Under the Extradition Act 2003, courts cannot take the evidence against a person into account when deciding whether to allow an extradition. Babar Ahmed's legal fight against extradition has been based not on the flimsiness of the evidence him, but only on the certainty that his human rights would be violated in the US.
Babar Ahmad could face decades or life in jail if extradited to the US. He could be held in extreme isolation in the Supermax prison ADX Florence, or subjected to Special Administrative Measures.
The House of Lords refused to consider Babar Ahmad's appeal against his extradition, saying that the two points of Law presented to them were not matters of "public importance."
The European Court of Human Right is now considering Babar Ahmad's case. Of the many issues that Babar Ahmad's legal team attempted to raise in their application to the court, the court will consider only the complaint concerning detention at ADX Florence and the imposition of special administrative measures post-trial, and the complaint concerning length of sentence.
The House of Commons held a debate on Britain's extradition arrangements on 5 December 2011. The House agreed without a vote to call on ministers to bring forward new laws and attempt to change the UK-US extradition treaty and European Arrest Warrant regime
Babar Ahmad's fight for justice has been part of the anti-war movement in Britain for over 6 years. Members of his family have spoken at Stop the War meetings and demonstrations around the country. His wife received a standing ovation when she spoke at a packed plenary session of the G8 Alternative Summit in Edinburgh in July 2005. Babar Ahmad is one of us. He needs our support now.
The buck stops with the Home Secretary. Even if the European Court rules that Babar Ahmad can be extradited, the Home Secretary doesn't have to extradite him.
A public outcry is probably the only thing that can stop Babar Ahmad's extradition if the European Court rules against him. There may be little or no time to organise once the judgement is given. Act now!
Babar Ahmad's persecution affects us all. Huge issues are raised by the case.
- If Babar Ahmad can be extradited because a US server was used to host a website he used, what does that mean for other people who use US-based web services like Facebook? Tens of millions of individuals and businesses in Europe use these services. Do we all have to take care to comply with US law?
- Long-term solitary confinement is commonplace in the US prison system. Muslims convicted of "terrorism" are particularly at risk, but tens of thousands of other prisoners are also subjected to this abuse. Long-term solitary confinement is torture. It lies outside accepted norms of prisoner treatment in Europe. No one should be extradited to the US if there is any risk that they will be tortured in this way.
- The evidence-free Extradition Act 2003 is easily exploited by police to allow "jurisdiction shopping" - police can engineer a prosecution in whatever country they think provides the strongest chance of conviction. This is easily done in terrorism cases, where law-enforcement and intelligence agencies work closely together around the world. But it could be done in other cases too.
- Extradition to the US could become rapid and routine The cases of Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan and others are working their way very slowly through the courts. But if the extradition of these people is approved, other cases could proceed much more rapidly. You could be whisked across the Atlantic, with no opportunity to object, to answer for "crimes" you never knew you had committed. Extradition within Europe, even on minor charges, is becoming routine. Extradition to the US could also become routine. But US justice and penal systems are very different from ours, and the US is hopelessly distant for friends and families who want to provide support.
Take Action - Stop Babar Ahmad's Extradition
Lobby Your MP
Please contact your MP regarding Babar Ahmad's extradition to the US. You can contact your MP using www.writetothem.com, but whatever method you use, you must provide your name and address in order to show that you live in the MP's constituency. Your MP is then legally obliged to answer you.
- Ask your MP to urge the Home Secretary to drop Britain's opposition to the applications made by Babar Ahmad and others to the European Court of Human Rights [Application nos. 24027/07, 11949/08 and 36742/08 by Babar Ahmad, Haroon Rashid Aswat, Syed Tahla Ahsan and Mustafa Kamal Mustafa (Abu Hamza) against the United Kingdom]. The appeals are based on the risk of the men being sent to a Supermax prison or being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Britain should not be seeking to legitimise these practices.
- Ask your MP to urge the Home Secretary to refuse to extradite Babar Ahmad to the US, irrespective of the eventual decision of the European Court.
- Ask your MP to write to the Attorney General, urging him to instruct the Crown Prosecution Service to bring proceedings against Babar in the UK, whereby Babar can more readily mount a fair defence. Ask your MP to send you a copy of any letters they send and any response they get. Prosecution in Britain would halt Babar Ahmad's extradition, would allow the non-evidence against him to be put before a British jury (albeit one working under Britain's Orwellian terrorism laws) and could give Babar Ahmad a chance to clear his name.
- Tell your MP that Babar Ahmad should in any case not be extradited until the Government acts upon the Commons resolution of 5 December 2011 calling on ministers to bring forward new extradition laws and attempt to change the UK-US extradition treaty
- Send your MP a copy of the Babar Ahmad FactSheet (September 2010) compiled by the Free Babar Ahmad family campaign, or just send this link: www.sacc.org.uk/sacc/docs/babar_ahmad_factsheet.pdf
- Feel free to raise with your MP any of the other issues set out on this page.
- If you live in Scotland, as soon as you have contacted your MP, please contact SACC - we need to know which MPs have been contacted so that we can organise future activity.
- Once you receive a reply from your MP, please pass it to SACC
The injustice being done to Babar Ahmad is plain for anyone to see, but the legal issues have become tangled and complex. Babar Ahmad must go free. Please encourage your MP to do everything possible to that end.
End long term isolation of prisoners
Please do everything you can to end the plight of prisoners held in long-term isolation, whether in US Supermax prisons or anywhere else in the world. Use the next International Human Rights Day (Wednesday 9 December, 2010) to highlight this issue worldwide. Whatever decision the European Court of Human rights takes in Babar Ahmad's case, we must not allow the long-term isolation of prisoners to be legitimised, in Europe or anywhere else.
Write to Babar Ahmad
1 Southall Street
- Babar Ahmad – the buck stops with Theresa May - article by Richard Haley (13 November 2010)
- Factsheet (pdf document) from the Free Babar Ahmad family campaign - please download, print and distribute.
- European Court of Human Rights Decision on Admissibility, Babar Ahmad an others v the United Kingdom, July 2010 (pdf document)
- The Free Babar Ahmad Campaign
- StopIsolation - an international initiative to end long-term solitary confinement and prisoner isolation
- statewatch briefing on the Extradition Treaty of 2003
(pdf document )
- Babar Ahmad - background and campaign material from CagePrisoners
- Six years in jail, no charge - interview with Babar Ahmad in the Independent
- Solitary Watch - a collaboration between journalists aimed at bringing the widespread use of solitary confinement and other forms of torture in U.S. prisons out of the shadows and into the light of the public square.
- Stopmax - campaign sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) - a Quaker group - which works to eliminate the use of isolation and segregation in US prisons
- Stopmax Voices Voices of prisoners in solitary confinement in the US, published by the Stopmax campaign to stop prison isolation and related forms of torture
- Supermaxed - about Supermax and maximum security prisons
- Abolish control units - US campaign to shut down Control Units - isolation cells within prisons where people are confined to small cells for long periods of time
- Supermax - a clean version of hell - CBS report