Nazia Ahmad: 'This should not have taken eight years of incarceration without charge'


Kevin Rawlinson,Jerome Taylor
Tuesday 10 April 2012 22:23 BST

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Louise Thomas

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Nazia Ahmad, 27, younger sister of Babar Ahmad, was 18 when her brother was taken away to prison. He has been there ever since. Now, having just turned 27, she is still yet to see him charged with any offence. Her main question is not whether he should face trial, but why it has taken this long.

“My brother has been living in limbo for the last eight years and so have we," she said. "Someone who commits a murder and is given 35 years in jail at least knows when they will be going home, what they are convicted of. Babar has not known what will happen to him tomorrow, in a year, in two years, in eight. It is the worst type of psychological torture.

“To spend eight years in prison to fight to stay in Britain would perhaps be worth it if he had won. But to still have to be transported to America, it is not fair. He is happy to stand trial so he can have his day in court, answer the allegations and see the evidence.

“Imagine someone came to you one day and said ‘on this day, we believe that you did something. We are not going to show you any evidence and we have not charged you with anything, but get on a plane and go to a foreign country to stand trial' – and perhaps never see the light of day again.

“This should not have taken eight years of incarceration without charge. Our appeal could even take up to another couple of years. The authorities can’t put them on the plane for another three months, so Babar is certainly in prison for at least that long before he even knows where he will end up next.

“It has been a very long battle, we have tried anything and everything in our means to stop this from happening. It should never have got this far, it should have been resolved long before this, at least he wouldn’t have had to spend eight years in prison before he even faces any charges.

“It has been a long, difficult fight. We have had ups and downs and we have had glimmers of hope. When Babar won compensation for the assault, for example. As a family, we are going to keep fighting to the end, we are going to be there for Babar.

“He will have to go to America and be kept in solitary confinement for his trial, we do not know how long that will be. There have been a series of appeals and the case has gone through the courts but, if they were going to tell him to go to America anyway, why did it have to take this long?

“My brother has been held without charge for the longest stretch in modern British history. It is shocking to think that the government is happy for him to sit in prison for that long without ever hearing the charges against him. People talk about how much the BBC interview cost the taxpayer but how much has it cost to keep him in prison?

“We, the family, want to know if the Met Police passed all of the evidence to the Americans and if the CPS saw all of the evidence.”

Hamja Ahsan, the younger brother of Talha Ahsan, told The Independent that his family first heard about the ruling through Twitter and had been in tears for much of the day.

“After five years of prison visits with no trial, my parents find it deeply upsetting, but still have strength and resolve,” he said.

“We shouldn’t let America dominate us unfairly and unjustly – they have been abusive with their power in Guantanamo,” he added. “The US prison system with 25 per cent of the world's prisoners and five per cent of the world's population is a disturbing phenomenon in itself. Talha would be held pre-trial in solitary confinement for a long period of time, maybe up to three years. He has already spent more than five years in detention without trial. This reprehensible and unacceptable. We say if he has done anything wrong - fine, prove it in a British court.”

He said the family were particularly upset that Talha and Babar Ahmad’s case had been lumped together with that of Abu Hamza and two people accused of helping to coordinate the 1998 embassy bombs in Africa.

“I am disturbed and abhor the misleading phrase “Abu Hamza & Others” used by Theresa May as a misleading cover soundbyte and front to the injustice done to Babar Ahmad and my brother. “The Others” are cases with different circumstances.”

He said his family had received messages of support from others who have been involved in extradition fights including the families of Gary McKinnon, Richard O’Dwyer and Christopher Tappin.

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