Double standards when it comes to extradition in the UK. This is highly problematic from a legal and human rights standpoint. (h/t: Sarah Brown)
The Home Office has been accused of double standards after blocking the extradition of Gary McKinnon, who has Asperger’s, just two weeks after allowing the extradition of another British citizen with the same condition.
On Tuesday Home Secretary Theresa May ruled that there was such a high risk of Mr McKinnon ending his life that “a decision to extradite would be incompatible with his human rights”.
But Green MP Caroline Lucas questioned why “other British citizens including Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan – detained in the UK without charge or trial for eight and six years respectively – were not extended the same fair treatment” as Gary McKinnon.
“That neither was tried on British soil before being extradited to the US earlier this month, despite the fact that any alleged offences are said to have been committed here, is completely unacceptable,” she said.
Ahmad and Ahsan were extradited to America two weeks ago to face terror charges, after spending a combined 14 years detained without trial in the British justice system.
They are accused of running a jihadist website and raising funds for terrorism.
Ahsan’s brother, London-based art curator Hamja Ahsan, told The Huffington Post UK it seemed “starkly unfair” his brother was now in solitary confinement in a correction facility where as Gary McKinnon is still in the UK.
“My Dad and Gary McKinnon’s Mum spoke on the same platform outside Downing Street and compassion should be extended to our family too,” he said.
“I’m happy for Gary’s family but it’s not fair. It’s very starkly unfair. Both Talha and Gary have Asperger’s and are assessed suicide risks. It seems starkly unfair that both one should be extradited and is not,” he said.
“The Daily Mail spearheads a campaign against British citizens being extradited and it refers to Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad as unwanted guests. No government of the day wants to upset the Daily Mail.”
In a statement Babar Ahmad’s family said they welcomed Theresa May halting computer hacker Gary McKinnon’s extradition but questioned whether “some British citizens are more equal than others.”
“Questions do need to be asked as to why within the space of two weeks, a British citizen with Aspergers accused of computer related activity is not extradited, while two other British citizens, one with Aspergers, engaged in computer related activity are extradited. A clear demonstration of double standards,” they said.
“That Theresa May felt compelled to postpone both the McKinnon decision on several occasions and the introduction of the forum bar (which would have prevented Babar’s extradition) demonstrates her willingness to make vulnerable individuals like Gary suffer in her determination to extradite others.
“Many of our supporters are angry at what appears to be blatant old-fashioned racism under which all British citizens are equal but some are more equal than others.”
Friends Extradited Coordinator Melanie Reid told The Huffington Post UK there was a “deep discomfort” about aspects of the Home Secretary’s decision.
“This decision was not about defendants having Asperger’s or not – Gary is clearly very ill. The decision that affects other cases is that of the introduction of a forum test.
“Of course there’s a deep discomfort that this announcement of a forum test comes as soon as Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan have been extradited, but I hope their legacy is such that no other British citizens accused of conduct that took place on British soil, is extradited.
“I hope Babar and Talha’s families take some crumb of comfort in that their loss is other British citizens gain. Their efforts will never be forgotten.”
Karl Watkin MBE, an international businessman who has spent the last 12 years campaigning against the UK’s extradition treaty with the States, said that Theresa May had made “a cynical political decision” despite the “great result.”
“The Home Secretary was desperate for a hook to hang her u-turn on and thankfully found one.
“Sadly this will not benefit others including Richard O’Dwyer. The UK needs to stand up to the extraterritorial reach of the US in particular on cyber crime which should be prosecuted where it physically took place not on the tenuous location of servers,” he told The Huffington Post UK by email.