Campaigners calling for the trial of Babar Ahmed to take place in the UK have scored a huge victory following the success of their on line petition. This evening parliament will debate a motion demanding that ministers renegotiate the US-UK extradition treaty. This could also be one of the rare occasions when MPs are given a free vote. Not surprisingly The Affront to British Justice Campaign have also piggy backed onto this session, and their representatives will no doubt highlight other similar cases like the one of Gary McKinnon.
While the Babar Ahmed case has been the catalyst for the e-petition, and Gary Mckinnon is probably the most widely known example of individuals fighting extradition to the US, we should not forget the plight of Talha Ahsan, another British citizen arrested at his home in 2006 in response to an extradition request from the USA under the Extradition Act 2003 and detained for 5 years without trial.
I recently asked the Mayor of London for his views on the Talha Ahsan case but very unfortunately he responded saying that it would not be appropriate for him to comment on a particular case. This did not however, stop Boris in the past, when in the Mail, he lead calls for a reform of the extradition laws to help British businessmen like Gary McKinnon. Both Talha Ahsan and Gary Mckinnon are British born and live in London. I am not sure therefore, why he felt compelled to speak up for one and unable to comment on the other?
Whilst we are unlikely to see a complete repeal of the Act, a significant overhaul would be welcome. At the very least, British Citizens should be afforded the same “probable cause” protection as their US counterparts. Presently, this is the test applied to individuals when Britain makes an extradition request to the US and yet the same test is not applied when the US make a request for a British citizen. This is now the time for our MPs to redress the balance in the interests of justice for their own citizens.