The Abu Hamza Bogeyman CardThe 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 FrameThe 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?
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)