Friday, August 22, 2014

Welcome home for Talha Ahsan

FAMILY and friends of Talha Ahsan organised a rally to celebrate his return home to Britain after years of detention in Britain and the United States.
Syed Talha Ahsan is an award winning British poet and translator. He was arrested at his family home in London, on 19th July 2006 in response to a request from the USA under the US-UK Extradition Act 2003.
Talha Ahsan was detained without charge for over six years before his extradition to the United States on 5th October 2012. Ahsan was accused of helping to set up an Islamic fundamentalist website based in Connecticut that raised funds for the Taliban and other Islamic terror groups in Bosnia and Chechnya. The Americans also claimed that Ahsan had provided support to Al Qaida and that he had fought in Afghanistan. Ahsan, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, denies all charges.
But on 10th December 2013, in the US District Court in New Haven, Connecticut he entered into a plea-bargain with the prosecution and pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to provide and providing material support for militants in Chechnya and Afghanistan. All other charges were dismissed.
 His brother Hamja said: "Talha had little choice but to enter a plea bargain: he was faced with the option of dying in a 'supermax' prison, or entering into a plea bargain, which was the quickest way to come home," he said.
The length of Talha's detention without trial or charge is among the longest in British legal history. He is also the translator of a tenth-century Arabic poem, Above the Dust, by Abu Firas Al-Hamdani, on his captivity in Byzantium.
His extradition case raised controversy due to comparison with the treatment of Gary McKinnon, whose extradition – which was expected to be 10 days after Ahsan's – was stalled after a medical diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and associative risks, similar to a diagnosis given to Ahsan.
This has led to accusations from mainstream UK media, Human Rights NGOs as well as religious groups of a racist double standard within Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May's application of the law.
Talha was declared a free man by a US judge on 16th July and was transferred to US immigration custody where he awaits release and permission to return home.

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