Labour’s justice spokesman is pressing the home secretary for Babar Ahmad to be charged in the United Kingdom, instead of being extradited to the United States to face terrorism charges, the Guardian has learned.
The intervention by Sadiq Khan comes as British prosecutors admit they decided not to put Ahmad on trial here after examining only some of the evidence against him, even though a substantial part of the material was collected by British police.
Ahmad and his family believe he should be charged and tried in the UK if he has a case to answer, and not “subcontracted” to the US.
Last week the European court of human rights ruled that Ahmad and four other men currently held in Britain, can be extradited to the United States where they are wanted on terrorism charges.
The US says Ahmad ran a website, called Azzam publications, and provided support to terrorists and was involved in a conspiracy to kill.
Khan, who represents the seat of Tooting in south London, is the constituency MP for Ahmad and another man, Syed Talha Ahsan, who is also facing extradition to the US.
In his letter to the home secretary, Theresa May, Khan last week wrote: “You may be aware that the Metropolitan police and CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] only viewed a small portion of the evidence against my constituents – and sent the vast majority to the United States authorities without first reviewing it to see if British authorities could bring charges against Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan. I would ask that you satisfy yourself that proper procedures were followed at all times in these two cases.”
Khan’s letter continues: “I would specifically ask that you personally review the case against my constituents to see if charges can be brought against Babar Ahmad and Syed Taiha Ahsan here in the UK. They have always been willing to stand trial in a British court, and in front of a jury of their peers.”
In another letter to the attorney general, Khan wrote: “It is clear that the bulk of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan police was provided directly to the US authorities without the CPS reviewing it.”
Ahmad’s family and lawyers had always believed the CPS had viewed all the evidence before deciding not to bring charges in the UK, which left the way open for the US extradition attempt.
But last November the CPS wrote to them to say only “a small number of documents seized by the Metropolitan police were submitted for advice”. The letter was from Sue Hemming, head of the CPS’s counter-terrorism division. The same letter said that the CPS had not considered any evidence in charging Ahsan.
In a statement the CPS said: “We made clear to Mr Ahmad’s solicitors in a letter last November that the CPS as domestic prosecutors saw a small number of documents gathered as evidence by the police in this country, which was insufficient for a prosecution here.
“At the time this decision was made, domestic prosecutors were aware of the nature of the evidence in the possession of the US, but the entirety of the evidence was never subject to review in this country as it formed part of the case built by the US and was held there.”
“The evidence found in the UK and submitted to the CPS by the Metropolitan police service, even if it had potentially amounted to an offence of collecting information likely to be useful for a terrorist purpose, amounted to only a small fraction of the criminality alleged against Babar Ahmad by the US.”
Ahmad has spent the last eight years in prison in the UK. The key evidence against him came from searches of his south London home, and lockers and computer equipment he used at Imperial College London.
Furthermore bank accounts and postal orders to fund the Azzam website, which the US says shows Ahmad was instrumental in running it, were all based or originated in Britain.
The US says a server used to host the Azzam website for a period of time was based in Colorado.
Lawyers for the men facing extradition to the are considering an appeal to the grand chamber of the European court. Judges last week decided that the length of sentences the men faced, and conditions of detention in a Supermax prison in Colorado with extensive periods of solitary confinement, did not amount to inhumane treatment or torture as defined by article three of the European convention on human rights.
But the UN’s leading expert on torture has said he fears conditions the men would face in the US would amount to torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment.
In an intervention in the case, which the European court essentially rejected, Professor Juan Méndez, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture, wrote to the court saying: “I am concerned that extradition of a detainee to a state that practices solitary confinement with limited recourse would violate article 3.”