November 20, 2001
Formal U.S. request for Al- Hadi extradition contains no link to September 11
Sympatico NewsExpress: National- Full Story
TORONTO (CP)- the U.S. Department of Justice has formally asked Canada to extradite a Yemeni man languishing in a tiny jail cell in Toronto since the day terrorists attacked New York and Washington.
But U.S. authorities apparently plan to prosecute Nageeb Abdul Jabar Mohamed Al- Hadi for nothing more than passport fraud, since the extradition request makes no mention of September 11, his lawyer says. “The irony of it all is that he’s been kept in solitary confinement, and there’s nothing else (in the request) except for the passport violations he was arrested on,” lawyer Gary Batasar said Monday.
“there’s absolutely nothing implicating him and no hint of any implication with respect to September 11 at all.”
The formal extradition request was received Friday in Ottawa, but had yet to make its way to Justice Department offices in Toronto, said spokeswoman Dorette Huggins.
Monday was the official deadline for the U.S. to make the request. Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice have steadfastly refused to comment on Al- Hadi’s case.
Al- Hadi was plucked from a Chicago- bound Lufthansa airliner grounded in Toronto on September 11, the day highjackers used commandeered commercial jets to attack the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre.
The 35- year- old father of three was carrying multiple passports with different names, and also had a pair of flight crew uniforms in a suitcase that made its way to Chicago on an earlier flight.
Even though the extradition request suggests U.S. interest in him is limited, a chilling climate of swift military justice south of the border still has Batasar concerned for Al- Hadi’s ultimate safety.
Under extradition law, Al- Hadi is supposed to be protected from charges other than those spelled out in the formal extradition request, Batasar said. But the ever- changing U.S. judicial landscape could mean all bets are off.
An order issued last week by President George W. Bush allows terrorism suspects to be tried by military tribunal, a swift, decisive and secretive judicial procedure based on more relaxed legal standards than civilian courts.
Many of the basic tenets of fundamental justice- due process, full disclosure, the rights of an accused- do not apply to military tribunals, Batasar said.
Al- Hadi’s defence team is contemplating a constitutional challenge to the extradition request on the grounds that their client may not be able to get a fair trial in the U.S., he added.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t make sure all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted, and that the Canadian courts have some sort of reassurance that the U.S. is going to treat this man in accordance with the law.”
Al- Hadi is but one of scores of Middle Eastern people across Canada and the U.S. who have been kept on “immigration hold”- often solitary confinement- since the day of the attacks,
Authorities in both countries have come under mounting criticism from civil liberty advocates who say innocent people are being caught up in what amounts to little more than a fishing expedition.
Al- Hadi is schedules to appear in court again Thursday, likely to set a date for an extradition hearing. But Batasar, convinced the general prison population will pose no serious threat to Al- Hadi, says he also plans to ask Justice Brian Trafford to make an order releasing his client from solitary.
“If somebody doesn’t like you face, or they don’t like your charges, you’re at risk,” Batasar said.
“But if anything, this may diffuse that risk, the fact that he’s not wanted on anything other than the passport violation.”
Al- Hadi has a one- year- old daughter in Michigan who is undergoing treatment in hospital for a congenital heart defect. His lawyers have abandoned efforts to have him released on bail, since family members in the U.S. risk detention at the border.
U.S. court documents show the FBI alleges Al- Hadi was carrying three Yemeni passports with different names, dates of issue and dates of birth when he was apprehended in Toronto.
His baggage contained two Lufthansa crew uniforms, at least one identification card and a piece of paper with Arabic writing sewn into the pocket of a pair of pants, the FBI said in an affidavit.
Yemeni embassy officials have said Al- Hadi faces charges in Yemen relating to inconsistencies in his passport applications.