Babar Ahmad, a 38-year-old British Muslim, is being held under controversial extradition laws while fighting American attempts to remove him to the US where he is accused of terrorist-related offences.


He strongly denies any involvement with terrorism.


Today the BBC and its home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani challenged Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s refusal to allow Ahmad to be interviewed face-to-face for a television broadcast.


Lawyers for Ahmad supported the challenge and argued the immediacy of a filmed interview was the only way to communicate the psychological and physical impact of his arrest and detention.


Reserving judgment, after a day-long hearing, two judges said they hope to give their ruling in January.


Ahmad is being held in a special detainee unit at Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire, waiting for the European Court of Human Rights to rule on whether or not he should be extradited.


He stands accused in a US indictment issued in Connecticut in 2004 of soliciting and raising funds over the internet for terrorism “in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other places”.


Lord Pannick QC, appearing for the BBC, said Ahmad had been detained without trial longer than any other British national in UK modern history.


He was seriously injured during his initial arrest and the Metropolitan Police paid him £60,000 in damages after admitting liability, though four officers accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm were found not guilty earlier this year.


Lord Pannick argued his case raised several issues of exceptional public interest, and the Justice Secretary’s “disproportionate and irrational” refusal to allow him to be interviewed in prison should be quashed.


The decision was in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression, said Lord Pannick.


He argued a filmed interview would allow the public to better assess Ahmad’s credibility and the views he was expressing.


There was no question of him “glorifying” terrorism as he had publicly criticised and objected to it.


Phillippa Kaufmann QC, appearing for Ahmad, said he had already made written statements that had appeared in newspapers.


But only the immediacy of a television broadcast could communicate to the public the emotional and psychological impact of his initial arrest in December 2003 on suspicion of being involved in terrorism-related offences, his re-arrest in August 2004 in response to the US extradition request, and his subsequent lengthy detention.


Ms Kaufmann said: “He has aged far more than the number of years that have passed since he was first detained.


”This is what written communications cannot adequately convey.”

SOURCE: Asian Image

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