Ahmad longest-serving prisoner without trial, expects apology
by Daily Sabah
IstanbulMar 14, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 14, 2016 12:00 am
Babar Ahmad, a British citizen of Pakistani descendant who returned to the UK last summer spoke for the first time and said he was expecting Scotland Yard to apologize to him for extraditing to the U.S. and for being tortured during the detention. Ahmad was accused of supporting Taliban and helping the protection of Al-Qaida's former leader Osama bin Laden. He was sentenced to 12,5 years but was released last year since he already spent 9,5 years in the jail. Ahmad's story began when he traveled to Bosnia to help the Bosnians, fleeing from the atrocities, committed by the Serbs in 1990s. After serving in a refugee camp, he joined Bosnians, fighting against the Serbs. He later went to Chechenia to help orphans and set up a website where the stories of fighters and victims were told. "But as the website began covering other conflicts involving Muslim countries, Ahmad allowed two articles to be published on the site, which offered support to the then Taliban government in Afghanistan. This would prove to be his undoing," the Guardian reported on Saturday. "Before Osama bin Laden's attacks on America in 2001, a British-based website with an interest in foreign conflicts was of no more than curious interest to the US security services. But after 9/11 it was considered a dangerous threat to democracy. One US agent made it his mission to close the site and bring down Babar Ahmad. It would take eight years before Ahmad would discover the identity of his nemesis. In December 2003, 18 months after his websites were shut down, Ahmad was arrested by the Met's counterterrorism unit working with the Americans who accused him of being a terrorist linked to al-Qaida. Officers broke down Ahmad's front door and charged into his bedroom, where he was sleeping with his wife. Ahmad was subjected to a 40-minute ordeal of physical, sexual, religious and verbal abuse," the paper said.
"Judge Janet Hall sentenced Babar Ahmad to 12 years and six months but gave him credit for the 10 years he already served. Hall said Ahmad helped enable bin Laden to be protected when he was plotting the Sept. 11 attacks by supporting the Taliban. But she said Ahmad had no knowledge of the plot and there was no evidence he supported bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist group. "You can't walk away from the fact that what you were doing was enabling bin Laden to be protected in Afghanistan and to train the men who actually boarded the flights that drove into the Pentagon and World Trade Center," Hall said. But she imposed a much lower sentence that the 25 years sought by prosecutors, rejecting their claim that he posed a high risk of recidivism. She also rejected testimony from a government cooperating witness that Ahmad had traveled to Afghanistan. The case did not involve participation in acts of terrorism, and Ahmad showed no interest in doing so even after receiving a document detailing the movements and vulnerabilities of a U.S. Navy battle group, Hall said," AP reported two years ago. "Ahmad was extradited from Britain in 2012 along with a second man, Syed Talha Ahsan. Both were charged in Connecticut as authorities argued they used an Internet service provider in the state to run at least one of their websites. Ahmad's lawyers had argued that while he tried to help Muslims under attack in Bosnia and Chechnya through his publications in the 1990s, he regretted supporting the Taliban and condemned the Sept. 11 attacks," Reuters reported last year.
He opens his hands and proffers his wrists. "Can you see those marks too? That was when I was tortured by British police – when they pulled the handcuffs up my arm so tight that I screamed. And then they punched me all over my face before holding my neck so hard that I could no longer breathe. I really thought I was going to die." It was one of the most disturbing cases of police brutality in recent years – the Metropolitan police admitted liability and paid Ahmad £60,000 damages in 2009," the Guardian said. "They twisted the handcuffs until I cried out in pain. Two of the officers punched me repeatedly on the head, face, ears and back. On two occasions the officers sexually abused me by tugging at and fondling my genitals. And then the officers stamped on my bare feet with their boots," Ahmad said. "The officers mocked Ahmad's religious beliefs. After placing him in the Muslim prayer position, one officer sarcastically asked: ‘Where is your God now?'" the paper wrote. "In the court case that Ahmad brought against the Met in 2009, the custody sergeant, Thomas Martin, described Ahmad's handcuff injuries as the worst he had ever seen in 30 years as a police officer. Doctors who examined Ahmad over the next seven days found that he had at least 73 injuries, including bleeding in his ears and urine. The injuries were recorded graphically by a Met photographer. US prosecutors tampered with one of these photographs to remove any sign of injury when they brought their case against Ahmad in a court in Connecticut," the report said. He was later released by the U.K. police since there was no sufficient evidence to charge him. However, the U.S. prosecutors found the materials, published and broadcasted in his webpage sufficient material to charge him with supporting terrorism. "For the next eight years, Ahmad fought against extradition in the UK and European courts. During this time he was imprisoned without charge in some of Britain's top security prisons, including four years at Long Lartin's infamous detainee segregation unit in Worcestershire, where he was held with other terror suspects who could not be charged. While being extradited a British officer told him that "I'm sorry, but this is how the Americans want it." "Ahmad still holds the record as the longest-serving British prisoner to be detained without trial in the U.K.," the paper said. Before his release the judge said he was a good model for the other prisoners, he was not a terrorist, was too naïve to support Taliban and that the helped a family who lost their daughter in 9/11. Now Ahmad expects an apology.