” Babar Ahmad, a 37-year-old British Muslim, is being held under controversial extradition laws as he fights removal to the US, where he is wanted for allegedly raising funds for Chechen and Afghan insurgents over the internet.
He strongly denies any involvement with terrorism.”
Babar Ahmad is a 37 year old British Muslim and the longest detained-without-charge British detainee held as part of the global ‘war on terror’.
Babar Ahmad was born in London in May 1974, and, until his imprisonment in 2004, lived in Tooting, South West London. His parents migrated to the UK from Pakistan in the early 1960’s. His father is a retired civil servant and his mother a retired Science teacher.
He went to a reputable public school where he won academic prizes and obtained outstanding results at both GCSE and A-Level. He then went to university and obtained a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of London. Before his imprisonment in August 2004, he was working in the IT department at Imperial College London.
He is well-known locally in Tooting as a ‘caring and helpful’ member of the community through his years of youth work.
In December 2003 Babar was arrested at his London home under anti-terror legislation. By the time he reached the police station Babar had sustained at least 73 forensically recorded injuries, including bleeding in his ears and urine. Six days later he was released without charge.
Babar then filed a formal complaint that he had been subjected to horrific physical, sexual and religious abuse by the arresting police officers. In March 2009 the Metropolitan Police finally admitted in the Royal Courts of Justice in London that they did indeed carry out the Islamophobic and brutal assault on Babar Ahmad in December 2003. Moreover, they paid Babar Ahmad £60,000 compensation for damages. However, the Metropolitan Police have still offered no apology for the actions of their officers.
In August 2004 Babar was re-arrested in London and taken to prison pursuant to an extradition request from the US under the controversial, no-evidence-required, Extradition Act 2003. The US has alleged that in the 1990s Babar was a supporter of “terrorism”. Babar denies any involvement in terrorism. He has now been in prison for over five years even though he has not been charged in the UK.
On 03 June 2011, following a trial lasting five weeks at Southwark Crown Court, all four police officers charged with assaulting Babar Ahmad were acquitted. The jury took only 45 mins to reach their verdict and requested to meet the officers to shake their hands following the conclusion of the trial.
After the acquittal, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, the Recorder of Westminster and Deputy High Court Judge said, ‘I express the hope that his ordeal as a man in detention in this country for a number of years without trial is brought to an end as soon as possible…It is no concern of this court as to which, but it is a matter of concern and I would have thought should be a matter of concern to the public at large, quite apart from Mr Ahmad, that here is a man who has been in custody for literally years without knowing what his fate is to be.’
Babar’s family, friends and campaigners have mounted a high profile campaign for his release. He appeared in the news when it was revealed that the police had bugged his prison visits with his MP, Sadiq Khan (Labour-Tooting). His final appeal against extradition is at The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which is due to decide on it in late 2011. If extradited he faces the rest of his natural life in solitary confinement in a maximum security US ‘Supermax’ prison.
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