STOP BABAR AHMAD EXTRADITION TO USA – 100,000 sign e-petition for a parliamentary debate

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Protest against the extradition of Babar Ahmad in May 2005 outside Bow Street Magistrates Court
Protest against the extradition of Babar Ahmad in May 2005 outside Bow Street Magistrates Court

An e-petition supporting, Babar Ahmad, a young computer worker from Tooting, held for seven years without charge as an alleged terrorism suspect, has reached the level required for a parliamentary debate.

His supporters said on Friday: ‘The Free Babar Ahmad Campaign is pleased to announce that over 100,000 people have now signed the e-petition to put Babar Ahmad on trial in the UK.

‘We have been humbled by the response of the people of Britain which has been nothing short of phenomenal.

‘Although the target has now been reached, we urge all volunteers to continue to try and obtain more signatures for the petition by 10/11/11 to demonstrate the level of public support behind Babar and the need for there to be a parliamentary debate about his case.

‘We once again thank all our supporters for their tireless efforts to get justice for Babar.’

Babar Ahmad is challenging extradition to the United States where he could be jailed for life.

The petition has been actively supported by a wide range of celebrities, including world boxing champion, Amir Khan, comedians Mark Thomas and Marcus Brigstocke, and actor Robert Llewellyn, who have been appalled by Ahmad’s ongoing detention without trial.

He is now in his eighth year of detention, making him the longest detained-without-trial British citizen in the modern history of the UK.

The family of Babar Ahmad stated: ‘Our solicitors have prepared a fresh file of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, proving that the CPS should have prosecuted Babar in 2004.

‘Over 100,000 members of the British public now ask the DPP to confirm that itwill instruct independent counsel to conduct an urgent full re-review of this case so that Babar Ahmad can be put on trial in the UK.

‘We also ask the coalition government to confirm that a full parliamentary debate will be held about Babar’s case with a view to putting him on trial in the UK.

‘Our family would like to thank every single person who either signed or supported this petition.

‘We are overwhelmed by the amount of support for Babar’s case.

‘This shows that the British public is still prepared to stand up against injustice.

‘The government must now take a bold stance on this issue and stop sweeping it under the carpet like it has done for the last seven years.’

A number of senior politicians and lawyers have also spoken out in support of the petition.

Tooting Labour MP Sadiq Khan said: ‘The support for this e-petition has been phenomenal.

‘Thousands of people feel very strongly about the Extradition Act in general, and Babar’s case in particular.

‘I would like to pay tribute to Babar’s family for keeping this issue in the public’s mind.

‘It is important that parliament debates the matters raised in the petition.

‘As Babar’s Member of Parliament, I have worked with his family and legal team for a number of years arguing that any trial should be held in the UK.’

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP called for Babar to ‘either be charged and tried here or released; his long and seemingly unending detention is a travesty of justice.’

Leading civil liberties lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC described Babar’s ongoing detention without trial as ‘extraordinary hardship’, adding that it would be ‘monstrous and scandalous if Babar Ahmad were extradited to the US’.

Last month, the Muslim Council of Britain urged all British Citizens to sign the petition calling for Babar Ahmad, ‘a 37 year old British Muslim held for 7 years without charge on an extradition request by the US, to be put on trial in the United Kingdom.’

Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB, commented: ‘The case of Babar Ahmad is problematic: here is a British citizen who is alleged to have committed crimes that can be prosecuted under British law and yet he is being shipped off to the United States, under the controversial Extradition Act 2003.

‘The United States has a troubling record in dealing with terror suspects and therefore the British government has a responsibility to ensure the rights of its citizens are protected while at the same time ensuring justice is served.’

The Free Babar Ahmad Campaign noted: ‘During his arrest in London in 2003, Babar Ahmad was violently abused by Metropolitan Police Officers.

‘He sustained over 73 injuries. In March 2009, the Metropolitan Police admitted carrying out this abuse and paid him £60,000 compensation.

‘The four police officers responsible were later found not guilty of this abuse in June 2011, following a five-week trial at Southwark Crown Court.

‘At the conclusion of that trial, the Recorder of Westminster, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, said about Babar Ahmad’s case: “I express the hope that the ordeal of a man in detention in this country for a number of years without trial is brought to an end as soon as possible…”

‘On 22 June 2011, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights explicitly raised concerns over Babar Ahmad’s case in its report in “The Human Rights Implications of U.K extradition policy” and recommended that the government urgently re-negotiate the UK-US extradition of individuals in Babar Ahmad’s position.

‘Babar Ahmad’s final appeal is still being deliberated by the European Court of Human Rights which is to deliver judgment by the end of 2011.

‘Babar is represented in his extradition case by Ms Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce & Partners.’