This time last year, the Free Babar Ahmad campaign marked the 7th anniversary of Babar's detention by launching an e-petition to put Babar on trial in the UK. The campaign was a huge success uniting different communities working together to secure a record-breaking 149,000 signatures in less than 3 months. This in turn triggered two parliamentary debates on extradition and effectively forced the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to admit for the first time in seven years that it had never seen all the material seized from Babar’s house. It transpired that the material had been sent by British police to their US counterparts without ever showing it to the CPS. This led to a call for a public enquiry into the scandal by Caroline Lucas MP. The success of the e-petition was also quoted by the High Court as a reason why the Minister of Justice's prohibition on the BBC interviewing Babar was ruled to be unlawful, because of the enormous public interest in the case. As a result, the BBC's interview with Babar was broadcast in April 2012.
Shortly after this, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed Babar's appeal against his extradition to the US. An application for permission to appeal the ruling to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights was lodged last month and a decision on this is expected in September.
Since the European Court judgment, over 1500 members of the public have written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) requesting that Babar be put on trial in the UK. Numerous members of parliament, including the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, have also met with the DPP and called on him to do the same. Several meetings against extradition have been held around the country including in the House of Commons and a demonstration against the extradition took place outside 10 Downing Street at which Babar’s father Ashfaq Ahmad, handed in a letter to the Prime Minister David Cameron. Today, over 30 leading academics, including Professor Noam Chomsky and Professor Stuart Hall, signed an open letter to the DPP demanding that Babar be put on trial in the UK. The letter can be viewed here.
Last month also saw the release of a new film – ‘The Babar Ahmad Story’ – by independent film-maker Bilal Abdul Karim. The film was the second film released this summer. Earlier, ‘Extradition’, written and directed by Turab Shah, was shown at a dozen venues nationwide. The film exposes the injustices faced by both Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, another British citizen who has spent over 6 years in detention without trial and also fighting extradition to the US.
In the coming weeks, we urge supporters to continue to send letters and emails to the DPP asking him to put Babar on trial in the UK immediately. Full details can be found here and to make it even easier, please simply click on the ‘SEND LETTER’ ribbon on the top left hand side of the website, enter your details and click send to automatically send a letter.
Finally, Babar has written a new poem ‘The Promised Land’ to mark the 8th anniversary of his arrest and detention which can be read here.
We thank you all for your continued support and solidarity.