Tooting terror suspects Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan plead not guilty in US court
12:50pm Monday 8th October 2012 in News
Two Tooting men extradited to the USA last week pleaded not guilty to terrorism offences at the weekend.
Babar Ahmad and fellow detainee Syed Talha Ahsan are both accused of running a jihadist website which gave material support to terrorism.
The pair, who have been detained without trial for most of the last decade, appeared in a court in New Haven, Connecticut, on Saturday where they both entered not guilty pleas.
They are accused of a number of offences including using a website to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country.
Last month the European Court of Human Rights gave its approval for the extradition of five terrorism suspects from the UK to America.
Speaking on Friday before he was taken to the airport Mr Ahmad, a Tooting resident, said: "Today I have lost my eight-year and 2 month battle against extradition to the US.
"I would like to thank all those over the years who supported me and my family: lawyers, politicians, journalists and members of the public from all walks of life."
"By exposing the fallacy of the UK’s extradition arrangements with the US, I leave with my head held high having won the moral victory."
His father Ashfaq Ahmad described it as a "shameful" incident in the history of Britain.
He said: "After over 40 years of paying taxes in this country, I am appalled that the system has let me down in a manner more befitting of a third world country than one of the world’s oldest democracies.
"It seems that the Metropolitan police, the CPS and even the Court have all colluded to implement a pre-determined decision which was made in Washington."
Mr Ahmad was originally arrested at his Tooting home in December 2003 under anti-terror legislation before being released six days later without charge.
He was re-arrested in August 2004 and imprisoned prior to the US Government's extradition request under the controversial Extradition Act 2003 - he has been detained without trial ever since - Mr Ahsan was arrested a year later.
Shadow Justive Minister and Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, said: "The way criminal cases work in America means that defendants facing a trial are advised to plea bargain. It is a big risk pleading 'Not Guilty'.
"My understanding is that the consequences of this include the threat of life in solitary confinement without parole, should they lose a trial.
"If those are the stakes which pleading 'Not Guilty' involve then it is no wonder that over 97 per cent of defendants accept a plea bargain - regardless of how confident or determined they are to stand trial."