Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lotfi Raissi - A Warning

From the BBC:

A pilot wrongly accused of training the 9/11 hijackers is entitled to claim damages, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Judges said evidence suggested "serious defaults" in the decision to detain Lotfi Raissi in prison for nearly five months after a US extradition request.

In giving the court's judgment, Lord Justice Hooper said: "The public labelling of the appellant as a terrorist by the authorities in this country, and particularly by the CPS, over a period of many months has had and continues to have, so it is said, a devastating effect on his life and on his health.

"He considers that, unless he receives a public acknowledgement that he is not a terrorist, he will be unable to get his life back together again."

The Algerian pilot was arrested under the Terrorism Act at his home in the UK soon after the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington in 2001.

He was held under an extradition warrant issued at the request of the US government, which accused him of having trained the 19 hijackers.

The US alleged he attended flight training and used a flight simulator at a training school in Arizona at the same time as 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour.

Mr Raissi remained in Belmarsh Prison for four-and-a-half months until he was granted bail. The Crown Prosecution Service, which was representing the US, had objected to bail.

So, what do we learn from this:

* That an extension of detention powers will lead to many other such cases.
* The press are willing to believe the lies emanating from those in power and prepared to destroy a man's reputation before due process.
* That the interests of a UK citizen are secondary to that of the United States.
* If Raissi had been arrested after 2003, he would have been sent to the US, no questions asked. An innocent man would possibly face the death penalty.

I guess there aren't too many surprises here, however, this just underlines quite how dangerous the government's proposed 'anti-terror' laws really are. This verdict should send a message loud and clear: we are on a slippery slope and we need to do something about it.