Family of man condemned to US jail demands apology
THE brother of a British man condemned by Theresa May to a two-year stretch on death row in the US demanded yesterday the Home Secretary apologises for being “needlessly cruel.”
Asperger’s sufferer Talha Ahsan’s return to Britain is imminent after a plea bargain was struck last year when he accepted the charges of conspiracy and materially supporting terrorist organisations.
Mr Ahsan had been held without trial in solitary confinement at the Supermax prison Northern Correctional Facility since 2012.
His brother Hamja told the Morning Star yesterday of his family’s agony while he was over there.
He said: “When he was extradited he was put in a black van, he was hooded, put into death row prison — we weren’t even allowed to say goodbye.”
Mr Ahsan’s detention and his family’s plight has been made worst by the Home Secretary’s “authoritarian and abusive” handling of the case.
“It’s been very harrowing and disturbing and brought us to the edge of collapse,” said Hamja.
“My mum lives in agony she doesn’t know if she’ll ever hug her son again.”
The Free Talha Ahsan campaign is hosting a welcome home rally in front of the Home Office celebrating his return on Sunday.
But according to his brother the event is also an opportunity to bring together supporters from the many different communities that supported Talha.
Long-time supporter of the campaign Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “I am so pleased for Talha, his friends and his family that they are, at long last, to be reunited.”
Ms Lucas added that the Ahsan case “highlighted the extent to which a British citizen’s fundamental rights can be breached if the US decides.
“It highlights the grave flaws in UK law, such as on extradition and on detention without trial.”
Hamja echoed the sentiment saying that “Talha should be seen as a red light warning of worst things to come.”
Ms May started her address to the 2012 Conservative conference with: “Wasn’t it great to say goodbye,” referring to Mr Ahsan’s extradition.
The Home Secretary has been the champion of harsher immigration policies, deporting several asylum-seekers, including a teenage grade-A student.
“When you start with a two-tier citizenship system, which is what the extradition was, then things go on,” warned Hamja.
But a Home Office spokeswoman argued that Talha Ahsan “remained in custody in the UK while he used every opportunity, over many years, to frustrate and delay the extradition process, before he was finally removed in October 2012.
“Mr Ahsan’s release from custody in America is a matter for the authorities there,” she concluded.
Hamja — who was heralded by human rights group Liberty “for his inspiring work” — vowed to keep fighting not only for Talha but for justice in the criminal system and against the government’s draconian immigration policies.