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Court wants more evidence in U.S. extradition case

By the CNN Wire Staff
Terror suspect Babar Ahmad is escorted into the High Court by prison officers on March 18, 2009, in London.
Terror suspect Babar Ahmad is escorted into the High Court by prison officers on March 18, 2009, in London.
  • Babar Ahmad accused of providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy and money laundering
  • Court dismisses parts of Ahmad's appeal against extradition
  • U.S. grand jury indicted Ahmad nearly six years ago

(CNN) -- The European Court of Human Rights said Thursday it wants to hear more evidence before deciding whether to extradite British terrorism suspect Babar Ahmad to the United States.

The court dismissed parts of Ahmad's appeal against extradition, but said it wants to consider his complaint about the stringency of conditions at the prison where he is likely to be held in America, the U.S. penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, known more commonly as ADX Florence.

Ahmad had appealed to the court under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. The possibility that Ahmad might be held in a supermax prison for the rest of his life, without the possibility of parole or being moved to another, more lenient prison, required more examination, the court said.

The court dismissed Ahmad's complaint that he was at risk of having an unfair trial.

Ahmad, 36, was indicted by the United States in October 2004 on charges of providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy and money laundering. If convicted, he could face a life prison sentence.

Ahmad's case was the first to be handled under a new extradition agreement between Britain and the United States in 2003, which eliminated a requirement that the underlying evidence supporting the charges be presented in support of an extradition request.

A final ruling on the case was not expected for several months. The court asked the British government to submit more evidence by September 2, and the parties can then issue their responses before the court gives its judgment.

If the court rules against Ahmad, he would be the first terrorism suspect extradited from Britain to the United States on terrorism charges since September 11, 2001.

Ahmad's family said they were "very pleased" with Thursday's ruling. They said they have appealed to the British attorney general asking that Ahmad be put on trial in Britain rather than be extradited.

The indictment against Ahmad, returned by a U.S. federal grand jury, accuses him of conspiring to provide support to terrorists, including helping to ship gas masks to the Taliban and using U.S.-based websites to raise money for Chechen leader Shamil Basayev.

Basayev claimed responsibility for the 2004 Beslan school massacre in Russia. He was killed two years later by Russian agents.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, Ahmad is charged with providing material support to terrorists; conspiracy to kill, kidnap or injure people in a foreign country; and money laundering.

All the charges except money laundering carry a possible life sentence; the money laundering charge carries up to 20 years in prison.

In addition, the indictment accuses Ahmad of maintaining several websites that posted messages saying "the best way of helping Jihad and the Mujahadeen is by actually going to the lands of Jihad and physically fighting.

"The first and most important thing that Muslims can do in the West is to donate money," the websites state, according to an affidavit supporting his extradition.

It also allegedly directs readers to obtain firearms training and, where permissible, obtain an assault rifle.

"Military training is an Islamic obligation, not an option."

The websites, according to the indictment, provided instruction for the surreptitious transfer of funds to the Chechen Mujahadeen and the Taliban, and instructions for travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight with these groups.