The father of Tooting terror suspect Babar Ahmad has appeared before a parliamentary panel tasked with reviewing the UK’s extradition arrangements.
Ashfaq Ahmad was invited to Parliament on Tuesday by the Home Affairs Committee to tell members of his concerns about his son’s case since the US issued an extradition warrant in August 2004.
American prosecutors alleged Babar was involved in terrorist websites – prompting his arrest. He has never been charged in the UK but has been in prison without trial for more than six years.
Ashfaq, a 76-year-old retired civil servant, told committee members about the “terrible” situation his family faced, having to travel for hours to the low-secure Long Lartin prison near Birmingham just to see him.
He said: “We are so tired and exhausted and over the years Babar too has been totally devastated and mentally upset.”
In a written plea, he added: “I am an elderly man who may not have much time left to live. My family has been devastated by Babar’s arrest and imprisonment.
“Sending him to the US would more than likely mean I would never see him again. Babar should be tried in the UK and if found guilty in a court of law, sentenced accordingly.
“In any case, his extradition should be put on hold until the independent panel appointed by the Government completes its review of the extradition laws. This is only logical and fair.”
The Ahmad’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, argued against current extradition legislation, claiming there needs to be a “more rigorous analysis” whether justice would be best served if a trial were held in the UK.
She told the panel: “The prospect of a trial in America is raising some extreme concerns in terms of prison conditions, length of sentence and impact upon defendants.
“We say that all of those obstacles, which in the end might lead the European Court to forbid the UK to extradite to US, would be avoided if there were a trial here.”
Last July, judges at the European Court of Humans Rights froze Babar’s US extradition over fears it may be a “cruel and unusual punishment”.
The Home Affairs Committee is expected to report back to the Government by late summer 2011.