If, like me, you sometimes waiver about giving governments extra powers to deal with terrorism at the expense of our traditional legal safeguards, be sure to read The Guardianstory of British prosecutors failing to disclose crucial evidence to the courts in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in a case that resulted in an innocent pilot being jailed for five months.
Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian living in the UK, was the first person in the world to be arrested after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington DC. Accused of being the “lead” instructor of the 9/11 hijackers, Raissi, 27, was held in Belmarsh high security prison awaiting extradition to the United States. Months before the British courts were told, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was aware that allegations against Raissi were wrong and there was insufficient evidence to charge him.
That initially did not deter law enforcement officials in the UK. They colluded with the FBI to obtain a warrant for his extradition and as there was no evidence to justify a warrant for terrorism, Raissi was requested on charges relating to an allegation that he failed to disclose his knee surgery in a pilot application.
The Guardian now has obtained documents produced by the FBI and anti-terrorist officials in the UK after the 9/11 attacks which shed new light on how the courts were misled before a ruling by the UK court of appeal last year that found there was evidence that Scotland Yard and the CPS had circumvented “the rule of English law” in what judges believed would amount to a serious abuse of process.
The UK government is now considering whether it will accept responsibility for the miscarriage of justice and pay Raissi compensation.