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Farid Hilali loses the first European Arrest Warrant extradition Appeal - where is the evidence against him ?

What could be worse than being extradited to foreign country like the USA without any prima facie evidence against you being presented to a British court for challenge by your defence lawyers, like in the cases of Gary McKinnon or Babar Ahmad ?

You could be arrested and extradited to a European Union country, under the supposedly "fast track extradition" European Arrest Warrant.

The first person to have had this dubious honour thrust upon him is Farid Hilali, who, today, has lost his High Court appeal against the decision last June to allow his extradition to Spain on terrorist chrges, connected with the alleged Al Quaeda cell which was broken up in 2001.

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.

Except of course, that during the multi-defendant trial in which, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas was sentenced, the Spanish court dismissed all of the telephone intercept evidence as being "untrustworthy".

"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."

There are still lots of unanswered questions about the alleged phone calls to or from Peckham and New Cross in London.

There does not appear to be any actual evidence to link Farid Hilali with the mobile phone(s) which an unknown person named or codednamed "Shakur" spoke in such coded terms with Yarkas, from i.e. they were not fouund in his Farid Hilali's possession, and there does not seem to be any DNA or fingerprint evidence which links him to these mobile phones, if they even still exist anywhere.

The only thing to link Farid Hilali as "Shakur" is an alleged "voice analysis" by the Spanish secret authorities, which was not done until May 2003.

"Voice analysis" is hardly an incontrovertible forensic technique which cannot be challenged in court.

Given that mobile phone calls are entirely digital and are synthesised from "phoneme" building blocks, it is entirely possible to digitally fake such an alleged intercepted phone call to resemble the "voice" of a suspect.

Even if not faked, or selectively and misleadingly digitally edited, how can anyone be sure that the vague and unspecific words used were not mis-translated from Arabic ? What direct proof is there that they had anything to do with the September 11th 2001 terrorist hijacking suicide murders ?

Remember also, that if Farid Hilali was being tried in England under the Terrorism Act which he was arrested under, then Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Section 17 Exclusion of matters from legal proceedings would apply to all this alleged phone intercept "evidence", which would be indamissable in Court.

Why is there no mention of Farid Hilali in the extensive and exhaustive reports by US Congressional Commisions ad Committees into these attacks ?

How can it be right to extradite anyone on such flimsy, entirely digital and easly faked or misinterpreted, circumstantial evidence ?

One would have thought that such evidence would have been challenged in a British court during the extradition hearing, but, remember, thanks to the NuLabour Extradition Act 2003, no such evidence is required anymore. Since this comes under Part 1 of the Act, there is no longer even a role for the Home Secretary to decide on the case either.

Call us old fashioned, but we think that some actual positive, evidence should be brought before a British court, for a sanity check, before anyone is arrested and extradited from the UK to a foreign country.

For all we know, Farid Hilali could be a peripheral associate of terrorist plotters, but this is not justice, and it does not make us any safer against real terrorists, it just weakens our freedoms and liberties, which is exactly what the terrorist extremists want to achieve.

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