Babar Ahmad Returns to UK After Serving US Prison Sentence for Terrorism Offences

Babar_AhmadA British man convicted of terrorism offences in the United States has returned to the United Kingdom after serving a one-year prison sentence. A report can be found here.

Babar Ahmad was extradited to the US in October 2012, eight years after he was arrested, following a US arrest warrant, issued on 28 July 2004. The warrant alleged that London-based Mr Ahmad had conspired to provide support to the Taliban and Chechen mujahideen by the use of the Azzam website, which he operated through an Internet Service Provider in Las Vegas. Mr Ahmad was formally indicted in October 2004.

On 1 October 2004, the US government submitted a full extradition request, and a certificate under section 70 of the Extradition Act 2003 (EA 2003) was issued by then Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, on 5 October 2004.

UK Extradition Proceedings

In May 2005, then District Judge Timothy Workman ruled against discharging Mr Ahmad from extradition proceedings, and his extradition was subsequently approved by Charles Clarke.

Mr Ahmad appealed the court’s decision (Ahmad and Aswat v The Government of the United States of America (2006)). His appeal was joined with that of Haroon Rashid Aswat. The appeal was brought on the ground that there was a real prospect that the appellants’ rights under Articles 3, 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) would be violated if they were extradited to the US.

Dismissing the appeal, the High Court held that diplomatic notes, providing that Mr Ahmad would not be treated as an enemy combatant, were a sufficient safeguard against any breach of human rights. He was denied leave for a further appeal.

Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights

Subsequently, Mr Ahmad applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) (Ahmad v United Kingdom (2012)). The ECtHR required that his extradition be delayed until it had determined his case. On 10 April 2012, the court dismissed his application on the ground that post-extradition detention in a US super-maximum security prison would not violate his rights under Article 3 of the ECHR. The court also pronounced on five other applications in its judgment, which raised similar issues under the ECHR.

Extradition, Trial and Release

Mr Ahmad was extradited to the US in October 2012. He pleaded guilty to soliciting and conspiring to provide funds to the Taliban, and recruiting men to travel to Afghanistan for mujahedeen training. He was sentenced to 12 ½ years’ imprisonment. However, taking into account the ten years that he had served in prison in the UK, he was released in June 2015. He has now returned to the UK.

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