Help to free Talha Ahsan

Commentary on Gary McKinnon - Introduction and summary of events

After the shameful extradition of Talha Ahsan on the 5th October 2012, the management of Asperger Home Education began to discuss what the outcome for Gary McKinnon would be when Theresa May announced her decision in a few days time. There was no consensus of opinion - one member strongly held the view that he was also to be extradited at the behest of the US government, whereas another person believed that his extradition would not go ahead and the proposed changes to the extradition laws would be implemented on the same day. The latter was indeed true. Shortly after 12:30PM on the 16th October 2012, Theresa May announced her decision to block the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US after determining that extraditing him would violate the Human Rights Act.

Theresa May says she delayed the decision until after the Olympics. It is clearly and blatantly obvious that she delayed the decision until after the ECHR had given their verdict on the five Muslims awaiting extradition - including Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad - in September 2012.

The announcement must come as a great relief to Gary McKinnon and his family who have valiantly battled against the establishment for over a decade in order to avoid being extradited. We are absolutely delighted with the decision as all of us have staunchly supported Gary even before Asperger Home Education came into being. Celebrations were few because sadly the timing of the announcement so soon after the extradition of two other British citizens casts a dark shadow over the entire affair and calls into question the consistency of justice and the British government's consideration for human rights.

In December 2011, Parliament passed a unanimous vote demanding the introduction of a 'forum bar', which means that a court hearing has to be held to decide whether a person should stand trial in the UK or be extradited. Prosecutors will have to justify any attempt to extradite a suspect to the US for an alleged crime which took place in the UK. The final decision will rest with a British judge. However, this forum bar, which would almost certainly have prevented Talha Ahsan from being extradited and enabled him to stand trial in the UK, was not activated at the time but it will be in the near future.

Even with the forum bar in place there are still plenty of dangers. The Extradition Act remains in force as it does before because changing it will require lengthy negotiation with the US beforehand. Neither is there a mandatory requirement for prima facie evidence from the US (or any other requesting state not currently required to provide it) before sanctioning an extradition.

Businessman Karl Watkin who has spent the last 12 years campaigning against the UK-US extradition treaty and unsuccessfully tried to commence a private prosecution against Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan in September 2012, said that Theresa May had made "a cynical political decision" despite the "great result", and that "The Home Secretary was desperate for a hook to hang her u-turn on and thankfully found one".

In an excellent video summary of the events US Justice for British Citizens? by The Real News Network, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, responded to Theresa May's decision in Parliament "Can the Home Secretary say why, if she accepts the law does need to change, why she then sanctioned the extraditions of Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan. Surely they should also be benefiting from a fair extradition process. They were extradited on the 5th of October, they are still waiting for a year at least before they're even going to come to trial. British citizens accused of committing crimes here in Britain - they should be tried here in Britain, not in the US".

London-based art curator Hamja Ahsan and brother of Talha gave six interviews with the media on the same day.

In a television interview for The Real News Network, he made the statement "All these things could have been dealt with six years ago, or eight years ago in Babar's case, and put in a British court of law. As a matter of fairness, logic and common sense, it should have been put in a British court of law. When we go home and look at our google, our hotmail, our twitter - these are all on US servers. Most .com and .net things are on US servers. Most emails in the world pass through a US server. So if a US server is enough to claim extra-territorial jurisdiction, then the United States effectively has extra-territorial jurisdiction over the entire world. If they've done anything wrong, try them in the UK, show some evidence".

He told the Independent "I'm delighted for Janice and Gary but the government clearly waited for Babar and Talha to be extradited before they announced the forum bar. It's so upsetting because a forum bar would almost certainly have meant they would have been prosecuted in the UK, not the USA".

He also told The Huffington Post "It seemed "starkly unfair" his brother was now in solitary confinement in a correction facility where as Gary McKinnon is still in the UK".

"My Dad and Gary McKinnon's Mum spoke on the same platform outside Downing Street and compassion should be extended to our family too, I'm happy for Gary's family but it's not fair. It's very starkly unfair. Both Talha and Gary have Asperger's and are assessed suicide risks. It seems starkly unfair that both one should be extradited and is not".

Continue reading - Commentary from the family of Babar Ahmad

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