Media 45: BBC did NOT report US judgement that Ahmad was not ‘interested in or involved with what is commonly known as terrorism’
It has been announced (very quietly) that Babar Ahmad has been released. No reference to the eleven years of solitary confinement and isolation in ten different prisons – or Judge Hall’s favourable assessment of Ahmad’s character and motivation.
In a 2012 press release, campaigners seeking the release of Babar Ahmad recorded that nine years ago , officers from the Metropolitan Police broke down the door of Babar Ahmad’s house in a pre-dawn anti-terror raid.
Despite the Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police admitting in the High Court that his officers also carried out “a serious, gratuitous and prolonged attack” on Babar in the manner he described, a jury found all four officers charged with the assault ‘not guilty’.
He was then extradited to the US which claimed Ahmad’s alleged crimes fell under their jurisdiction because a website he ran in support of the Afghan Taliban used a server based in the US.
From the 171 page transcript of the judgment – making several other points – well worth reading:
Judge Janet Hall said in her ruling “There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot …neither of these two defendants were interested in what is commonly known as terrorism . . .
“This is not an operational case. I believe the government agrees that there were never any plots even discussed by these defendants. There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot. A plot to go out and purposely harm civilians.
What these defendants did is that they gave material support, or they sought to raise and get material support, they wanted material support to flow to the Taliban at a time when the Taliban was protecting Osama bin Laden”.
Her investigation was hampered, as she said in her ruling:
“There either are no transcripts or the transcripts were not turned over for various security reasons, or because the UK government wouldn’t turn them over to the United States, and they, therefore, could not turn them over to the defense.
“What we do have, and which the government properly turned over given they finally got access to them, are the summaries by law enforcement of what was said by this witness in various debriefings”.
In Judge Hall’s summing up:
“I should find first that Mr. Ahmad has no criminal history personally. He has never been convicted of a crime. But the guidelines call for him to be treated as if he’s in a Category VI, which typically is a person who has committed, at a minimum, three and up, could be more, serious felonies . . .
“I don’t think it’s right to act on what I would call an unfounded fear that a defendant might do something, like a terrorist act, and therefore we should just lock that person up forever . . .
“Maybe I’m influenced by the fact that I believe that at various times, the U.S. supported the rebels against the Russians in Chechnya, that we spoke about how the Chechens were not terrorists at the time they were trying to expel the Russians, which is the time that Mr. Ahmad was doing what he was doing on the web with respect to Chechnya.
“There’s nothing on the web to extol the terrorist acts that the splinter group engaged in in ’03. And I don’t find that Al-Qaida was any part of the Chechen rebels”.
Deny them the mainstream ‘oxygen of publicity’ ?
Was a lesson learnt from the extensive media coverage of the 2013 50,000 strong, peaceful protest in Manchester last year?
Has Cameron followed Margaret Thatcher’s strategy: “to ask the media to agree among themselves a voluntary code of conduct, a code under which they would not say or show anything which could assist the (demonstrators’) morale or their cause”
Anya wrote to the BBC but asked to be spared one of their standard replies: “I am starting to turn BBC off altogether as I find you continually cherry pick the news to suit the status quo nowadays often filling our screens with trivia, rather than addressing the main questions that face our country today from both sides of the argument”.
An estimated 50,000 people marched from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London to Westminster. Following concern expressed by many, six pages of Google search results failed to discover reports of this march in any mainstream media outlet apart from the Guardian.
The crowds heard speeches at Parliament Square from People’s Assembly supporters, including Caroline Lucas MP and journalist Owen Jones. Addressing the marchers, Jones said: “Who is really responsible for the mess this country is in? Is it the Polish fruit pickers or the Nigerian nurses? Or is it the bankers who plunged it into economic disaster – or the tax avoiders? It is selective anger.”
The People’s Assembly was set up with an open letter to the Guardian in February 2013. Signatories to letter included Tony Benn, journalist John Pilger and filmmaker Ken Loach. Its spokesman Clare Solomon said: “It is essential for the welfare of millions of people that we stop austerity and halt this coalition government dead in its tracks before it does lasting damage to people’s lives and our public services.”
“The people of this building [the House of Commons] generally speaking do not represent us, they represent their friends in big business. It’s time for us to take back our power,” said Russell Brand.
The Metropolitan police refused to provide an estimate of numbers attending – but a police spokesman confirmed that the force had received no reports of arrests.