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Farid Hilali in court - unanswered questions

Farid Hilali, who is the first person who is being extradited under the new European Arrest Warrant, actually appeared at Bow Street Magistrates Court yesterday,

This new extradition procedure should be under microscopic scrutiny by the media and others, since the reported "evidence" against Hilali seems to be vague and circumstantial, and some of it should be inadmissible under current laws.

According to various reports and Press Association reports

"Farid Hilali, 35, phoned Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, who is suspected of leading an al-Qaeda cell in Spain, a few weeks before the attacks on the US, said a prosecutor, James Lewis. He was speaking at Bow Street magistrates' court in London for the Spanish government in its effort to extradite Hilali from the UK.

The Moroccan told Yarkas "he had a month to go and that he had some important matters to do ... Everything was going to be fine He had entered into the aviation sector He had slit the throat of the bird", interpreted as code for the United States, Mr Lewis said.

Hilali allegedly spoke to Yarkas after the attacks of being "sick," code for under police surveillance, the prosecutor said. "

This is hardly smoking gun stuff, with no actual mention of anything illegal, or of a particular target. How can it actually be proven that the word "sick" did have the meaning attributed to it ?

"The arrest warrant claims Hilali is participating 'in a commando (group) that is being trained on aircrafts, a few days before the attacks of 11 September, 2001' and he directed al Qaida activities.

The court also heard of a wedding video seized in Germany, also implicating Hilali through his connection with Yarkas. "

A wedding video is unlikely to have recorded any actual illegal plotting. All that it might establish is that some people might have met each other. That is not evidence of a crime.

Judge Timothy Workman remanded the suspect in prison until a further hearing on July 29.

The extradition case is expected to be decided some time in September.

June until September does not seem to be a very "fast track" extradition procedure.

Questions which should be answered before this European Arrest Warrant Extradition is permitted:

  • The two alleged phone calls, presumably mobile phone calls reported to have been made from New Cross or Peckham.
    • Were both the phone call on August 27th before Sept 11th 2001 attack and the one after the attack made using the same mobile phone ?

    • What evidence links Farid Hilali with this phone or phones ?

    • Were these phones registered in his name ?

    • Were these phones found in his possession when he was arrested in September 2003 ?

    • Did he purchase phone credits through a traceable credit card etc ?

    • Does any Communications Traffic Data i.e. itemised phone bill link this phone or phones to identifiable members of Farid Hilali's family or workmates etc ?

    • Or were the mobile phones used "untraceable" and the only evidence that Hilali might be "Shakur" comes from the alleged voice analysis ?

  • Is the only link to "'Shakur"' the similar sounding tribal clan name of "'Shukri", which is attributed to Farid Hilal ? e.g. like "Saddam Hussein" is more formally "Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti"

  • Why is any of the mobile phone intercept "evidence" being presented in a UK court, when it should not be admissable or even mentioned , according the the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act section 17 and 18 ?

  • How were the authenticated voice samples of Farid Hilali obtained from him, when he was in Belmarsh prison under an immigration charge ?

  • Who actually conducte dthis voice analysis and identification of Hilali as "Shakur" ?

    • Was it UK police authorities ?
    • Was it the Spanish Police Unidad Central de Información Exterior (UCIE) ?

    • Where are the expert witnesses from eithe rof these organisations who can show an unbroken chain of evidence regarding these recordings and "voice analysis" ?

  • Was Farid Hilali under surveillance before his arrest in September 2003 ?

  • Was an intrusive surveillance warrant under RIPA obtained and passed by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner to obtain these voice recordings ?

  • Was Farid Hilali arrested initially under the Terrorism Act 2000 or but then not charged and held under an Immigration offence ?

  • Or is he one of the special category foreign national terrorist suspects held incognito under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 ?

  • How does the wedding video from Germany prove any link to the September 11th attackers ?

    • Is there actual evidence of a plot conversation recorded on this video ?

    • How can the authenticity of this video be proven, as it apparently comes from neither the UK nor from Spain, but allegedly from a seizure in Germany, but the wedding could have been in Morocco ?

  • Is Farid Hilali a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation ?

    • If he is, then why has he not been charged under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 ?

  • Is there any evidence of Hilali sending or receiving large amounts of money to finance or support any proscribed terrorist organisation ?

    • If there is, then why has he not been charged under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 ?

  • Under the European Arrest Warrant, what safeguards are there to prevent Hilali being charged with other unspecified offences once the Spanish authorities get custody of him ? The so called principle of "Speciality" under clause 17 of the Extradition Act 2003

These questions are the sort of thing that we would expect a United Kingdom court to be satisfy itself to check if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with an extradition under the new European Arrest Warrant scheme.

From the media reports so far, it does not appear that there is any evidence that Hilali was involved in the September 11th 2001 plot.

All the reported evidence so far, seems to be of the electronic variety and could easily have been misinterpreted or undetectably edited or forged in order to "fit up" a case against a possible sympathiser, thereby making him out to be a "key terrorist plotter" in the September 11th 2001 attacks.

Whatever the truth about Farid Hilali, it would be an unacceptable attack on all our civil liberties in the UK, if someone can be extradited on a European Arrest Warrant on such apparently flimsy evidence.

If the proper rule of law and evidential procedures are ignored or the safeguards under UK law are sidestepped, simply because of the European Arrest Warrant dimension, then the terrorists will have won a victory against our core societal values.


Press Release – 9/11 Terror Suspect loses extradition battle to Spain

A Moroccan man wanted by Spain in connection with the 9/11 attacks has lost a four year extradition battle after the House of Lords overturned a High Court decision in April 2007 which held his detention was unlawful and that he should be extradited to Spain.

Farid Hilali, 39, has been held in British prison without charge since September 2003, but it is unclear exactly how Spain will put him on trial because the Spanish Supreme Court unanimously has already held in relation to the trial of so called Al-Qaida Spanish Cell in September 2006 that is there is no connection to between Spain and the events in 9/11 attacks. More interestingly the Spanish Supreme Court also held that the only evidence which the Spanish have relied on to seek Mr Hilali’s extradition was obtained unlawfully and inadmissible.

The US 9/11 Commission report also found that there was no Spanish link to the 9/11 attack and despite being sought by Spain for 9/11 the USA have never regarded Mr Hilali a suspect.

In a statement released by his solicitor today Mr Hilali said “today is a disgraceful day for British values. I am very disappointed at the way the British have harassed me over the last 9 years even though I have never been charged or convicted of any criminal offence.

In 1999 I was tortured in the United Arab Emirates and Morocco in the presence of British MI6 officers because I refused to become a spy for them. My extradition to Spain is a smoke screen to conceal Britain’s true intentions of sending me to Morocco to face torture leading to death. If I am ultimately sent to Morocco and tortured Britain will be held legally and morally responsible.

I am a victim of British state terror. Before lecturing the world on justice, democracy and human rights Britain should get it own house in order first.”

For further comments please contact Moazzam Begg on 07875090494.

Mr Farid Hilali
Arani Solicitors

Press Release dated 30th January 2008

House of Lords Ruling Extradition of Farid Hilali – Re: 9/11

We confirm that we shall be taking this case to the EU as there are fundamental questions that need to be addressed which has been left unanswered.

We welcome the decision that the Spanish prosecutor should appreciate the speciality rule. Further that no breach of the speciality rule can take place. Furthermore that Mr Hilali is not being extradited for “participation in a terrorist organisation” as has been stated time and time again despite the District Judges ruling.

Today the House of Lords held that even if the European Arrest Warrant does not even make out an extradition offence as required under UK law, any person can be extradited to another EU country because a mere allegation has been made by another European state. Today we have been told by the House of Lords that it does not matter for what reason or what basis a European Arrest warrant is issued we should abandon all rights to challenge a warrant as it is all “based on mutual trust.’’

How can an innocent man “trust’’ the Spanish authorities who seek his extradition even though the House of Lords have criticised the Spanish for their conduct.

How can an innocent man “trust’’ the Spanish authorities when the Supreme Court in Spain itself has stated there is no evidence of a conspiracy involving Mr Hilali or any others in Spain in relation to 9/11?

How can an innocent man “trust’’ the Spanish authorities despite the fact that the Spanish have already put several people on trial for involvement in the alleged 9/11 plot yet to date no one has ever been convicted in Spain in relation to this offence?

How can an innocent man “trust’’ the Spanish authorities when even US 9/11 Commission report also found that there was no Spanish link to the 9/11 attack?

How can an innocent man “trust’’ the Spanish authorities when the House of Lords chose to ignore the fact the Spanish prosecutor deliberately mislead the UK court alleging Mr Hilali was a member of the Hamburg cell, knowing full well there was no evidence linking Mr Hilali to such an organisation, in a desperate attempt to bolster the non-existent case against him?

The question is not about “trust’’ it is about “Why do the Spanish still seek to extradite an innocent man, on the very same grounds and evidence which the Spanish themselves admit cannot be admissible in a Court of law?’’ Today the House of Lords have stated it doesn’t matter. An innocent individual can be removed from this country on the say-so of another European country who simply have to issue a 2-page European Arrest Warrant with all the correct boxes ticked off. Where is the right to challenge this? There is none according to the decision of the House of Lords today.

This truly is a sad day for the rule of law and the right of every individual to challenge an abuse of process in the UK Court. . The House of Lords decision to overturn the earlier High Court decision to grant the writ of habeas corpus to Mr Hilali which held that his detention under the European Warrant was unlawful, underlies what is very troubling about today’s decision. Which is the sovereignty of the UK courts and right of every person to challenge the legality of his detention does not exist under the European Arrest Warrant.

The Spanish authority’s relentless pursuit of an innocent man is nothing short of administrative rendition. If there is no evidence that Mr Hilali will be prosecuted in Spain, why have the Spanish gone to all this trouble to have him extradited? The answer is simple. An innocent man who cannot be charged for any offence in the UK can be removed to another European country under the guise of the European Arrest Warrant and from there he will eventually be returned to the same country which he fled after he was tortured. The European Arrest Warrant allows EU countries to get around there obligations under International Law to grant people like Mr Hilali who have been tortured political asylum by the mechanism of extradition. By “extraditing’’ Mr Hilali to Spain the UK Government knows full well that eventually Mr Hillai will be returned to Morocco where he has been tortured on the direct instructions of the British Intelligence Services. At the end of the day the UK courts and government are allowing an innocent man to be removed from this country where he has family and lived in for 15 years to be sent back to the same country where they know he will eventually be tortured or even killed.

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