Update on the extraditions of Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad

Given the European Court of Human Rights decision to reject the appeal of five men (including Talha and Babar) to be given up to the US by the UK government, and private prosecution charge led by Karl Watkin its time to take stock and focus on what is going on. This is my attempt to make constructive, connected sense of the unfolding situation and highlight actions and resources that you dear reader might take.

The Abu Hamza Bogeyman Card

The Home Office strategy has been to camouflage the travesty of justice at the heart of this issue by playing the notorious Abu Hamza bogeyman card, even though Talha and Babar are amongst the longest detained without charge in UK legal history. They say 'Abu Hamza and the others'.

Abu Hamza's face has covered the UK paper's and confused public perception of the matters at hand, of the differentiation of the cases, the Home Office's power to stop these extraditions and our goal of British Justice for British citizens. It is really shocking how successful their misinformation campaign has been swallowed whole, and anger-making given that Abu Hamza was a MI5 informant. British spooks did not mind him so long as the focus of his bad mouth was overseas.

This is not speculation but came out in his trial, see, even he got a trial. Tragi-comically, the Queen entered the arena yesterday, with someone recollecting in public that she had once wondered out loud why he had not been arrested for breaking some kind of law.

Challenging the Frame

The Preachers of Hate framing is readily reproduced by our press, and sadly become well embedded in the public sphere. Given the political theatre of our times ( that doesnt seem to be going away), the British public tires of endless Muslim Terrorist-talk and no doubt switches off prematurely before receiving facts. The challenge before us is to cultivate the social techniques to communicate through the noise and veils between us. Every human is a potential feeler of and reflector on the injustice of this situation.

The experience of campaigning on these extraditions is that people support UK trials for Talha and Babar once they get a fuller human picture of their ordeals, the flimsiness of the accusations and evidence, the behaviour of the Met Police and CPS and the ridiculous outsourcing of British judicial sovereignty to the USA. This is about encouraging the justice within us to surface.

Babar is a British citizen who has been locked up for 8 years and was beaten black and blue upon his first arrest, winning damages but no apology from the Met Police. Talha is also a British citizen, a Koestler Platinum Award winning poet diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, who has been detained for 6 years.

If extradited both face torturous Supermax detention for years before their cases come to trial in a strange country that is not a great place for justice right now, as witnessed by Noam Chomsky here.

What now?

Earlier this month activists, poets, artists, discussants and performers congregated in East London's RichMix for an evening entitled Extradite Me, I'm British. Over a hundred people attended, became informed and joined the campaigns to negotiate a way out of this grave injustice, that pits powerful governments against families that are multiply marginalised.

Several people have been asking what they can do to become more involved, and their are three specifics I will address here: the private prosecution, the postcard call-out and the press/public sphere.

Karl Watkin's private prosecution bid seeks to address the justice gap by trying the 'Tooting Two' in the UK, before a jury of peers. I guess this is trying to compel Keir Starmer QC,  Director of Public Prosecutions at the  Crown Prosecution Service to show some spine and initiate a public prosecution.

Please email him on  keir.starmer 'at'cps.gsi.gov.uk to support Karl's initiative.

Arts Against Extraditions, creators of those fine, evocative campaign T-shirts have issued a postcard design call out on the concept of 'Extradite Me, I'm British'. This intends to mobilise creative resources and encourages raise the issues in ways led by our imaginations and reflections.

Please visit their site and circulate it around your creative pals, even have a go yourself.

The media are obscuring the issues by uncritically repeating the Home Office mantra of 'Abu Hamza and the others'. This is sadly enough to push the others beyond the pale. We have had clueless counsels for the American Embassy and hideously biased, uninformed academics (prof Glees) hogging vital airtime. The British press isn't having a particularly deep and challenging time these days, despite the wake up call of the Leveson Inquiry.   Fahad Ansari from the Free Babar Ahmad campaign and Hamja Ahsan from the Free Talha campaign are very able to address such assaults of our intelligence when given the microphone, but more needs to be done.

Please become informed with the particulars of the cases, examine press artefacts and be active citizens through the letters pages of newspapers, blogs, facebook and twitter  ( #freetalha and #freebabarahmad ).  Corresponding with elected and unelected authorities, in formal and informal fora is critical for the next days and weeks.

Contact details and articles covering the extraditions are given below for some of the major UK papers. Please write into them in reference to a specifically dated article, with your full name, address and telephone number, stressing as some of the talking points below in a kind/crisp manner.

  • Babar and Talha are British citizens who were born, educated and paid tax in the UK
  • They are accused of running websites hosted on servers in dozens of countries but operated from the UK.
  • The UK has the oldest criminal justice system in the world and is capable of successfully prosecuting them both here. There a need to outsource our justice.
  • Almost 150,000 members of the British public signed a government e-petition last year calling for Babar to be put on trial in the UK.
  • Together they have spent over 14 years detained without trial in the UK, serving the equivalent of a 30 year sentence between them, arguably more than they would have even received if convicted.
  • The CPS admitted last year that it had not viewed the bulk of the material seized from Babar's home which was sent directly by the police to their US counterparts and which forms the basis of the indictment against Babar and Talha
  • The DPP has now been in possession of that material for several months and is reviewing it to decide whether Babar and Talha can be prosecuted in the UK.
  • Support of Karl Watkin's private prosecution
  • The freezing of the extraditions until the DPP has fully reviewed the material and made a decision as to whether or not to prosecute them in the UK.
  • In 2005, Judge Timothy Workman said about the case: "This is a difficult and troubling case. The defendant is a British citizen who is alleged to have committed offences which, if the evidence were available, could have been prosecuted in this country." That evidence was secretly hidden from the CPS and Judge Workman for 8 years but is now available.
  • Talha has been clinically diagnosed as suffering from Aspergers, the same illness afflicting computer hacker Gary McKinnon. Theresa May continues to postpone her decision on McKinnon's extradition case on account of his Aspergers - why should a vulnerable individual like Talha be treated in a far more brutal manner?





Daily Mail


The actor and musician Riz Ahmed (or Rix MC) from 'Four Lions' and the upcoming adaptation of Mohsin Hamid's 'Reluctant Fundamentalist'  recorded this message of solidarity, the government should be protecting its citizens.

Robert King, who suffered Supermax detention and was part of the Angola 3 offers his message of support.

Free Talha Site (family led campaign)

FreeBabar Ahmad Site (family led campaign)


Imagining the Superposition of Green Wavefronts

The long-time anti-war leader, psychotherapist and mother just quit the Respect Party. Its a bit sad how it came about, but its coming about isnt my focus for now. The thought of the Birmingham-based Salma Yaqoob joining the Green Party does joyous things to me. I like to speculate and project my political demands onto others, so please forgive and understand any commodifying of humans-as-my-pawns here.

The UK Green Party just elected a new leadership, choosing Australian expat Natalie Bennett as their number 1 and Dudley-based Will Duckworth as deputy leader.  On a purely regional level, there are potential synergies in the midlands. It would also contest the scary neomalthusianism that underpins several flavours of environmentalism (thats you Jonathan Porritt), the technocratic aspects of Brighton's Green-led council (allowed an 80 year old pensioner to be jailed for not paying her council tax) and might broaden the political constituency beyond the over-representation of the white middle classes.

Looking  generationally I feel the politics of Decolonisation, Alterity and Life converging. Silly little NGOs and the governmentalisation of Environment and Diversity arent really helpful in realising these political demands. Hence the image below.

Black Power, Verdant Knuckles

The Superposition of Green Wavefronts

For as long as I've been paying attention, Caroline Lucas has been a principled friend to Muslims, whether on hijab protection or the case of our dear Talha Ahsan, and interesting principled deshi candidates have stood for the party in national elections. I'm thinking of Farid Bakht for Bethnal Green and Bow and Dr Shahrar Ali for Brent. I won't forget Shahrar's rendition of If you Tolerate this then your children will be next at Bush house in protest at the BBC's evilness during the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Firm, committed, educated and of-the-future, a lot of current Green people tend to provoke accusations of over-middleclassedness. However this need not necessarily a fatal flaw.  With the Occupy and other assemblages out there, including folks like Bread and Circuses and Space Hijackers, its not like we are in a time of low inspiration and monoculture.

The Green's political values seem to include: Palestinian Freedom, Climate Justice, Civil Liberties, Deconsumerisations, Welfare, Humans as part of Nature, as well as Deimperialisation at home and abroad. It seems to be a space where we might breathe in our own skins.

But there is something still more tantalisingly nonsecular about planting our political seeds in this trough, and this relates to some of the projects you see linked to on the left. Its about realising the nonsecular political selves that we are and honouring and eco-akhlaq (practical ethics) and creative ideology of Qur'anic readings, into a politics of life.

Salma Yaqoob shifting into a green political space might enable the following to unfold more fully,

  • Transformation of our diet and food system to something more just, tayeb and nuronic.
  • Rejection of fake Muslim environmental NGOisms
  • Rejection of greenwash
  • Development of khalqi politics of ummah.
  • Derudeboyification.
  • Decoloniality
  • Farming revolution, revalourisation and localisation of food systems.
  • More Trees in and around Masjids, more Masjids in and around Trees.
  • Establishment of the politics of Tawhesion
  • Rememberance of the Garden
  • Rights of Nature laws and ethics
  • Surah Zalzalian conciousness


The Politics of Misrepresentativity

This is what as one level, Adil Ray's community leader character is trying to delegitimise, and we've all seen them, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Arabian, Indian, Secular, Islamist, self promotist.

The trick now is to address them as our Misrepresentative Leaders whenever they open their big fat stupid gobs. Our every day acts of recognition are key to this.

Misrepresentivity amplifies up the political food chain, like heavy metal but with no way as much ummahtic gain.