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Published by Julia O'dwyer
Akkas Ali Ali Speech to the Muslim Council of Britain 10th June 2012 on Extradition and Talha Ahsan
Akkas Ali Ali Speech to the Muslim Council of Britain 10th June 2012 on Extradition and Talha Ahsan

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Published by: Julia O'dwyer on Jun 10, 2012
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Talha Ahsan & US/UK Extradition Act 2003
 Mr Chairman, respected ulama, members of this Council and guests
: I want to speak to you this afternoon about someone who cannot be heretoday, a friend of mine whom I first met as an undergraduate in 1999. I want to speak to you about one of the gentlest, kindest people I have everknown with whom I lived in Damascus and who became, in that year, my neighbour, my honorary flatmate, my best friend and, for me, the very heart of Damascus itself. I want to speak to you this afternoon about Talha Ahsan, one of the brightest minds of my generation, and to ask for yourassistance on his behalf. Like Gary McKinnon, Talha has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome,an autism spectrum disorder, and he is, as a result of his incarceration, asuicide risk. He was arrested at his home in Tooting on 19th July 2006 by officers from Scotland Yard’s extradition unit, under a provisional warrantalleging offences under the UK/US Extradition Act 2003. He has been heldfor six years without charge or trial – on a federal indictment from the USstate of Connecticut, where he has never set foot, alleging that from 1997 to2001 he (together with Babar Ahmad) had some association with a hithertodefunct website about the wars and uprisings in Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan hosted on a US-based server. In fact, all .com and .net websitesare hosted on US-based servers. Two months ago, on 10th April 2012, the European Court of Human Rightsruled that it would be lawful to extradite Talha and the other men in thiscase without any violation to their human rights. To date, no one in thiscase has been charged or presented with prima facie evidence against him.Imagine, for a moment, the mental torture this travesty of justice presentsto those in custody as well as their family and friends. If extradited, these men will face a further three years in pre-trial detentiondescribed by the UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez as nothing shortof torture. If convicted, they will face 70 years in solitary confinement in
a Supermax prison – 23 hours a day with no human contact in seven-footcells – essentially, a brutal erasure of their lives.
  Mr Chairman, sisters and brothers
: There are several questions that needto be answered. 1.What kind of justice is it that allows our countrymen to be extradited without charge or trial or the requirement of prima facie evidence andnever permitted to see let alone challenge the evidence against them?2.Why have prosecutors in Britain declined to bring charges againstthese men?3.Might a US court be less troubled about the circumstancessurrounding the arrests of these men?4.And what does it say about our own judicial and national sovereignt when British citizens can be rendered under a treaty that does notgive them the same level of legal protection as US citizens?I should point out that the US has bilateral extradition arrangements with120 countries. All except three require proper evidence to be provided insupport of extradition requests. These are the UK, France and Ireland.France has made it absolutely clear that it is not obliged to extradite its owncitizens, and Ireland will not render anybody whose case can be heard in anIrish court. The Netherlands and Israel have said they will only extraditeon the unshakeable guarantee that individuals will be repatriated followingconviction. This leaves only the UK to keep the stars and stripes flying forthe special relationship.Talha and the other men in this case do not ask to escape justice. They ask only to be tried in their homeland for the crimes they are alleged to havecommitted here where the claimed evidence was found, where the relevant witnesses are present and where none of the very serious issues raised inthe European Court’s extended proceedings would have arisen. After theCourt’s ruling in April, our brothers have been given just three monthsto appeal to the Grand Chamber in Strasbourg. This time-frame ends inJuly, as football and the Olympics divert public attention from the crises of human rights and judicial sovereignty facing this nation. The campaigns have made a few advances. Last autumn’s e-petition forBabar Ahmed received 149,415 signatures and raised the profile of the case,particularly among non-Muslims. However, the government treated it with
contempt by merely tagging it onto a wider debate in Westminster Hall anddenying it a vote – instead of the full Commons debate that it promises onthe e-petition website.In the last few months, we have managed to establish our presence onTwitter and Facebook. During Babar Ahmad’s television interview, for which even the BBC had to take the Government to court, the Twitterhashtags #BabarAhmad and #FreeTalha were trending topics in the UK. If  you’re on Twitter please follow @FreeTalha and @FreeBabarAhmad. Thereare also websites and Facebook pages publicising these campaigns. You canfind more about them at our stall. This Wednesday 13th June at 10pm, Islam Channel will broadcast a recentpublic meeting we held in Central London about the Extradition Actfeaturing the lawyer Gareth Pierce, the actor Riz Ahmed and more than 150others. This programme can be viewed on the Islam Channel website at www.islamchannel.tv . There will be screenings of the ‘Extradition’ documentary (directed by Turab Shah) next Sunday 17th June in Brighton and on 21st June inManchester and Birmingham. This film includes interviews with thefamilies and friends of Talha and Babar. We hope to screen it across theUK as part of our publicity drive. Please speak to us afterwards for furtherdetails and to arrange screenings in your localities. Starting at 1pm on Saturday 23rd June, we will be demonstrating outsideDowning Street demanding that the government repeal the Extradition Actaltogether. Please keep this very important date in your diary and publiciseit among your networks. This must be a date that unites our communitiesfor the sake of Truth and Justice. This is for Talha Ahsan, Babar Ahmad,Gary McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer. 
 Mr Chairman, sisters and brothers
: If these are advances, they haveresulted from the hard work of a small under-resourced team of young menand women. With just two months left before the final appeal to the GreatChamber of the European Court, I am sad to say that these advances arenot enough. What our brothers need and what they ask for at this eleventhhour is a commitment from the members of this Council to understand,publicise and advocate their cause.

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