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Back Activities Alerts Action Alert: UK – Demand the trial of Talha Ahsan in the UK

Action Alert: UK – Demand the trial of Talha Ahsan in the UK

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Talha Ahsan

Stop the clock and reverse the extradition of Talha Ahsan to have him tried in the UK


1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action Required
4. Sample letters

1. Summary

Talha Ahsan has fallen victim to the Extradition Act 2003 and is on the verge of being extradited to the United States for a crime he allegedly committed here in the UK. The act stipulates that any British citizen can be extradited to the US without their government even providing prima facie evidence. Now is the time to act and let the authorities know this cannot happen. Talha must be put on trial here in the UK.

2. Background

Talha was born in London in 1979. He graduated with first class honours and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. In 2006 he was arrested and his family home searched by the Metropolitan police at the request of the United States government. Over the next few years he was transferred from prison to prison around the country and in April 2008, lost both his appeal against extradition and a judicial review against the Director of Public Prosecutions for not considering prosecution in the UK.

As the years have progressed, his prison conditions have worsened. All members of his Detainee Unit without exception were confined to the unit. They were no longer allowed to mix with mainstream prisoners in location such as the gym, education and Friday prayers. In 2011, the HM Inspectorate of Prisons visited the Detainee Unit and criticized the “too little attention paid to their uniquely isolated and uncertain position”.
After more than 5 years he has been in prison ever since, without charge or trial, resisting extradition to solitary confinement in the United States. This is a country he has never been to and where he has neither friends nor relations. In all this time he has had no charges leveled against them, seen none of the evidence or even been questioned by the British or American police.

On 10 April the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Talha Ahsan and four others facing extradition to the US can be extradited without violating their human rights. Today the men await their fate on 10 July 2012 when the ECHR will make the decision on the validity of their extradition.

We want to prevent the extradition of all these individuals and ask our government to put them on trial in the UK and have faith in our own criminal justice system. Write to the authorities today.

3. Action Required

Write to the following authorities requesting to urge the UK government to immediately try Talha Ahsan in the UK:

a) Director of Public Prosecutions

b) Attorney General

c) Home Secretary
 
4. Sample letter
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A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.
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a. Director of Public Prosecutions

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Attn: Keir Stamer QC
Rose Court
2 Southwark Bridge
London
SE1 9HS

Dear Mr. Stamer,

Re: Prosecution of Talha Ahsan

I am writing to request you order the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges against Talha Ahsan and put him on trial in the UK immediately. 
Talha is a British citizen with Asperger syndrome who has been in a high security prison since July 2006 without trial. He is accused of crimes allegedly committed in the UK and the bulk of the evidence against him was gathered in the UK as well. These accusations include terrorism-related offences arising from alleged involvement with a series of websites. He denies the charges but it only seems just to try him in a British court of law.

I bring to your attention the Court of Appeal case of Regina v Sheppard and Whittle (Janurary 2010) as the legal precedent for the UK being the ‘natural forum’ for Talha’s prosecution. The appellants were charged with possession, publication and distribution (via the internet) of racially inflammatory material. They were to be extradited from America to the UK. They argued that the US was more appropriate than the UK for prosecution as the websites were hosted in California. Instead Lord Justice Scott Baker ruled the UK was the appropriate forum for prosecution as the substantial measure of activities constituting the crimes, such as the writing and maintenance of the websites, took place in the UK.

The government accepts the possibility for his case to be resolved by a domestic prosecution as the ECHR highlights in the conclusion to their admissibility judgment (July 2010). This is the correct action since all the allegations against Talha materially took place in the UK since he was 18 years old.

There is still time to take this stance. Talha’s families believe that terrorism can be discussed without compromising the sovereignty of British citizenship or betraying a sense of justice. Regardless of innocence or guilt, he should be tried in this country.

There has been overwhelming support for Talha’s case from members of the public and civil rights organisations as well as his local MP and shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan. I therefore earnestly ask you to do the decent thing and rectify this situation by immediately putting Mr. Ahsan on trial in a British court of law so he can answer to the allegations against him. Should his extradition go through, you will be responsible for sending a young man with autism to face the next 70 years of his life in a ‘Supermax’ solitary confinement prison in a country he and his family have never been to –America.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]
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b. UK Attorney General
The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
The House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr. Grieve,

Re: Prosecution of Talha Ahsan

I am writing to request you to order the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges against Talha Ahsan and put him on trial in the UK immediately. 

Talha is a British citizen with Asperger syndrome who has been in a high security prison since July 2006 without trial. He is accused of crimes allegedly committed in the UK and the bulk of the evidence against him was gathered in the UK as well. These accusations include terrorism-related offences arising from alleged involvement with a series of websites. He denies the charges but it only seems just to try him in a British court of law.

There has been overwhelming support for Talha’s case from members of the public and civil rights organisations as well as his local MP and shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan.

Some people suggest, Mr. Grieve, that you are a man of principle. If you are being politically pressured to not do anything then I humbly suggest that the honourable thing for a man of principle to do in this situation is to resign. This action of protest will in itself lead to further scrutiny of this unjust situation. Nothing less is acceptable.

I urge this as there is quite simply a lack of confidence in the ability of the American system to be able to handle Talha’s case and sensitive needs. Statements that have been made regarding the Gary McKinnon case, who also suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, claim that he is too vulnerable for extradition and will face an ordeal of terrifying brutality. Why, Mr. Grieve, do these fears not also apply to Talha Ahsan?  It is even alleged, that most recently and shortly before the ECHR’s judgment came out, some of the judges visited Washington and met US judges. Please clarify if you or your department was involved in encouraging the judges to visit the US.
I therefore implore you to do the decent thing and rectify this situation by immediately putting Mr. Ahsan on trial in a British court of law so he can answer to the allegations against him. Should his extradition go through, you will be responsible for sending a young man with autism to face the next 70 years of his life in a ‘Supermax’ solitary confinement prison in a country he and his family have never been to – America.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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c. UK Home Secretary
Rt Hon Theresa May MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Dear Mrs. May,

Re: Prosecution of Talha Ahsan

I am writing to request you to prohibit the extradition of Talha Ahsan, bring charges against him and put him on trial in the UK immediately. 
Talha is a British citizen with Asperger syndrome who has been in a high security prison since July 2006 without trial. He is accused of crimes allegedly committed in the UK and the bulk of the evidence against him was gathered in the UK as well. He denies the charges but it only seems just to try him in a British court of law.

You are quite aware that two separate Parliamentary committees have concluded that the Extradition Act 2003 needs to be amended so that a judge can decide the appropriate place for a trial to take place. Your own Conservative government while in opposition back in 2006 was adamant that this was to be the case. Since then however the Baker Review astonishingly concluded that the Act was not to be amended yet the Home Office has failed to publish any of the evidence submitted to this review.

Furthermore you have allegedly allowed the US embassy to continue its lobbying to maintain the status quo of sending more UK citizens over to the US than vice versa. It is even alleged, that most recently and shortly before the ECHR’s judgment came out, some of the judges visited Washington and met US judges. Please clarify if you or your department was involved in encouraging the judges to visit the US.

There has been overwhelming support for Talha’s case from members of the public and civil rights organisations as well as his local MP and shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan. I earnestly ask you to do the decent thing and rectify this situation by immediately putting Mr. Ahsan on trial in a British court of law so he can answer to the allegations against him. Should his extradition go through, you will be responsible for sending a young man with autisim to face the next 70 years of his life in a ‘Supermax’ solitary confinement prison in a country he and his family have never been to – America.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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