NEWS
02/10/2012 10:30 BST

Babar Ahmad Extradition: Terror Suspects' Lawyers To Challenge DPP Decision Over Private Prosecution

Terror suspects Babar Ahmad and Syed Ahsan may yet have an "11th hour" reprieve from extradition to the US as they prepare to challenge a decision of the top prosecutor not to consent to them facing private prosecutions in the UK.

Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said on Monday the documents provided by the would-be UK private prosecutor - British businessman Karl Watkin - were "very short, lack any meaningful detail and do not provide any real support for a prosecution".

Watkin, a campaigner against the UK's extradition arrangements with the United States, made the attempt to bring legal proceedings against the pair in the UK to avoid "outsourcing the country's criminal justice system" to the US.

He told The Huffington Post UK: "The DPP’s decision smacks of a determined effort to extradite both these men. Yet their case is worlds apart from that of convicted Egyptian terrorist Abu Hamza.

"The public will decry this decision as it supports a trial thousands of miles from where the alleged crime was committed simply because in the DPP’s opinion, the evidence is too weak to prosecute in the UK. If that’s not outsourcing our criminal justice system, I don’t know what is.

"If you commit a crime in Britain, you get convicted in Britain.

"These two should be tried here and, if guilty, go to prison here. In my view, the evidence is clear and I have instructed my lawyers to consider asking the Courts to order the DPP and Attorney General to think again.”

The campaign to try Ahmad in the UK has had much public support

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has also restated his support for Ahmad to be tried here.

"If there was a crime committed it was committed in this country.

"There is absolutely no reason why this gentleman should not be produced before the British courts, arraigned and asked to answer to whatever his crimes are here in the UK.

"British citizens shouldn't automatically be extradited for trial in America for alleged crimes which didn't all take place there."

On Tuesday, Phillippa Kaufmann QC, appearing for both men, announced at the High Court in London that they intended to seek a judicial review on the grounds that the DPP had reached "an unlawful decision".

Ahmad has been in jail without trial since 2004 while fighting extradition and has pleaded to be charged and tried in Britain.

Campaigner Melanie Riley, founder of Friends Extradited which campaigns on the "unfair' US/UK extradition treaty, told The Huffington Post UK that the lawyers for the pair hoped to gain an injunction to stop extradition until the judicial review of the DPP's decision had taken place.

"This really is the 11th hour. It all depends on whether political will overrides what I believe is a very clear cut case for a domestic prosecution, and it cannot be right."

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The pair are accused of being involved in a website which encouraged terrorism and which, while operated from London, was hosted in the US.

Neither has been charged with an offence in the UK relating to the website Azzam.com, even though the investigation by US authorities includes evidence seized by the Metropolitan Police.

The CPS has refused to prosecute the men.