November 22, 2001
AL- HADI DETERIORATING IN JAIL, LAWYER SAYS
Terror suspect arrested at Pearson Airport Sept. 11
From Canadian Press
Deliberate foot- dragging by American authorities has left a Yemeni national who was jailed in Toronto the day of the U.S. terror attacks a “withered and broken man,‚” his lawyer says.
Nageeb Abdul Jabar Mohamed Al- Hadi looked gaunt and withdrawn as he appeared in court today, his long, unkempt beard and dishevelled hair betraying some 72 days behind bars.
And it has all been for the sake of some relatively minor American charges, lawyer Gary Batasar told Ontario Superior Court Justice Brian Trafford during an angry tirade against the U.S. Department of Justice.
Officials south of the border waited until the end of the 60- day period set out in Canada’s extradition treaty with the United States to submit paper wok formalizing the request, Batasar said.
Those documents, filed last week and signed by U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, “support my client’s position form day one: that Mr. Al- Hadi has absolutely no links whatsoever with anything to do remotely with any terrorist activity,‚” he said.
“That conduct does not reflect well on the U.S. justice system.‚”
Al- Hadi, a 35- year- old father of three whose family lives in Michigan, allegedly had several fake passports when he was plucked from a Chicago- bound Lufthansa airliner that was grounded Sept. 11 in Toronto.
His baggage, which made it to Chicago on an earlier flight from Germany, contained two Lufthansa flight crew uniforms and a piece of paper with Arabic writing sewn into a pair of pants, according to an FBI affidavit.
Details of the specific charges Al- Hadi faces in the United States are not known.. but documents authorizing Ontario’s Superior Court to proceed with an extradition hearing list seven comparable Canadian offences.
Those charges are primarily Criminal Code violations, including four counts of forgery and one count of making a false statement for the purpose of procuring a passport.
In Canada, passport forgery carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
Even so, said Gary Batasar, it hardly justifies keeping Al- Hadi and scores of others in solitary confinement, a tactic in use across the U.S. and Canada that some believe is intended to prevent further acts of terror.
Now that U.S. Justice Officials have conceded that Al- Hadi faces no terror- related charges, it’s time to let him out of solitary confinement, Batasar said.
“What I saw today was shocking and tragic,‚” he said. “It looks like he spent the last two months in a Third World jail.”
Batasar said he’s considering whether to challenge the laws that give the United States a full 60 days to formally request extradition.
He’s also not certain that Al- Hadi wont’ face additional charges once he gets to the United States, even though extradition laws protect him from being ambushed‚” with anything beyond what’s in the formal request.
Batasar and co- counsel Deepak Paradkar are also contemplating a constitutional challenge to the extradition request on the grounds that their client may no be able to get a fair trial in the United States.
It’s possible Al- Hadi could be tried by military tribunal, a swift and decisive process that adheres to much looser judicial standards than the civilian courts. Conceivably, he could even face the death penalty.
Meanwhile, Al- Hadi faces at least another month behind bars in Canada; his extradition hearing is scheduled to begin Dec. 19.
Efforts to have him released on bail were abandoned last week when it became apparent family members in the U.S. could themselves be detained for a week or more if they tried to cross the border.