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Spanish Al Quaeda group court case - judges reject the telephone intercept evidence as "untrustworty"

Today saw the verdicts on the long running court case in Madrid, where 24 suspected Al Quaeada terrorist cell members were on trial, for membership of a proscribed organisation, and some of them, on charges of helping in the September 11th 2001 attacks (not the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid, as most of these people were in custody by then).

Read the 447 page judgement (.pdf), obviously in Spanish.

Interestingly, the Spanish Judges rejected the "evidence" of mobile phone call conversations, as being "untrustworthy".

The BBC reports:

"But the judges dismissed evidence of recorded telephone calls used by the prosecution, saying they were misleading and often based on misunderstandings of the Arabic language."

The case of Farid Hilali, who was to be the first person to be deported from the UK under the new European Arrest Warrant, without being able to challenge any evidence against him, as none was presented to the UK court, under this new "fast track" extradition procedure.

Hilali's case demonstrates just how weak some of this "evidence" must have been. He was accused, on the basis of an alleged "voice print anlaysis" taken whilst he was in custody in the UK, of having been the mysterious "Shakur", who had several mobile phone conversations in August 2001, from south east London, with the leader of the Al Quaeda cell in Spain, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, during which the translated conversation, leaked to the press, contains no direct references to anything illegal.

There was no evidence of a secret substitution code" such as that which was used to convict Andrew Rowe (even though there is no evidence that this code was actually ever used).

Farid Hilali does not appear to be on the list those convicted and sentenced today in Madrid.

We had assumed that he was actually extradited to Spain back in June, but his fate as an illegal Morroccan immigrant remains unclear. Perhaps he is still being held as Prisoner No. HP8485 in Belmarsh prison. Post a comment here, or email us, if you know any more about what has happened to him.

This case demonstrates the difficulties of using telephone intercept evidence in terrorist prosecutions, and also shows how innocent people can have their lives destroyed by being tarred as "terrorists", simply on the basis of alleged "phone evidence", which may be entirely circumstantial or wrongly interpreted by the intelligence and police authorities, who are under pressure to show some results.

If actual intereceopted phone conversations of terrorist suspects who are under intensive surveillance, are so untrustworthy, then why should we trust any European Union wide scheme for the Data Retention of the Communications Traffic Data ?

If the targeted prosecution of 41 suspects only results in the conviction of 18 of them on the offence of belonging to proscribed terrorist organisation, and only three of those being convicted of having anything to do, indirectly, with an actual terrorist attack. then how many more innocent people will be caught up in web of false accusations if the plans for Data Retention of the Communications Data Traffic of 450 million innocent people in the European Union, goes ahead as proposed ?


Madrid was yellowcake; A foreign operation aimed at the US because of covert CIA WMD policy, Rice's WMD degree, and her 'relationship' to George.

CIA arranged the coup in Spain and the terror started after Scooter forced a CIA agent, 'under threat?,' to squeal to Vanity Fair about her status as an operations officer at CIA. Madrid was arranged on her behalf and using the people she had ,used, 'run' to get Spain into the war.

After the CIA agent(now she never really was running anybody)went to Vanity Fair she'd already gone bad and her intent was to get people killed. I think she is proud of the Spanish operations officers (and others) who were assasinated in Iraq on her behalf right after the article. Her planning for Spain could not have been done any better. Yes, she actually planned it. Yes, she was using someone's history. Yes, its a conspiracy and the judge doing the investigating of the CIA agent is a mob investigator(organized crime) and may be able to do more now that the news reporter is out of the way.

Well, maybe Spain would care if it were'nt for that darn coup.........

@ AndrewRoweorRove! - what CIA coup in Spain are you on about ?

This Al Quaeda trial had nothing to do with the March 2004 Madrid bombings - most of the accused had alibis - they were already being held in jail since 2001.

In what way did the election of the current Spanish Government, immediately after those bombings, serve US Government policy ? One of their first acts was to fulfill their election promise to remove their troops from Iraq.

According to Spanish newspaper reports, it appears that Farid Hilali was handed over to the Spanish authorities on the 7th of December 2005

Apparently this handover of Farid Hilali did not actually happen in December.

So much for the "fast track" European Arrest Warrant extradition procedures:

The Guardian of 24th January 2006:

Britain 'ordered torture of 9/11 suspect'

Staff and agencies
Tuesday January 24, 2006

A Moroccan wanted in Spain over his alleged links to the 9/11 attackers today told his extradition hearing he had been tortured on the "direct orders" of British intelligence.

Farid Hilali said the alleged torture took place while he was being held by the intelligence services of the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

The hearing, at the high court in London, was adjourned to give the government the opportunity to deal with the accusation.

Mr Hilali, 36, is identified by the Spanish investigative judge Baltasar Garzon as a co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks.

Spanish prosecutors claimed he telephoned Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the alleged head of the Madrid al-Qaida cell, in August 2001 and talked of entering "the field of aviation" and "cutting the bird's throat" - an apparent reference to the American bald eagle.

In a new witness statement put before the court today, he said he believed the only reason Spain wanted him "is so I can be deported back to Morocco, where I will immediately be arrested and tortured".

He then claimed Britain had ordered him to be tortured. "I also wish to state on record that the torture I have suffered at the hands of the intelligence service in United Arab Emirates and Morocco has been on the direct orders of the British Intelligence Service in the UK," the statement said.

"The British intelligence service have been directly responsible for the torture I have suffered, and are now directly complicit in ensuring I am removed from the UK by whatever means necessary and sent back to Morocco."

The hearing was halted after John Hardy, representing the Spanish central court in Madrid, which is seeking Mr Hilali's return, said there was "grave concern" over the allegations he was now making. Mr Hilali is contesting extradition to Spain on the basis there has been an abuse of process of the courts.

He is at present a category AA detainee currently at Whitemoor prison, in Cambridgeshire.

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