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Thursday, May 23, 2024

IHC bars US citizen’s extradition to US in NYC terror plot case

Talha Haroon was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 after US authorities identified him as one of three men, planning attacks on Manhattan’s Times Square and the city’s subway. IHC has ruled that the investigation officer probing the case in the US and the counsel for the suspect should appear before an inquiry magistrate, who should decide the matter within 60 days.

News Desk |

The Islamabad High Court barred on Friday the government from handing over an American citizen of Pakistani origin to the United States in a case pertaining to planning an attack in New York City.

IHC’s Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani has ruled that the investigation officer probing the case in the US and the counsel for the suspect, Talha Haroon, should appear before an inquiry magistrate, who should decide the matter within 60 days.

The court noted that a person could not be extradited solely on the basis of postal correspondence between Islamabad and Washington. Haroon was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 after US authorities identified him as one of three men, planning attacks on Manhattan’s Times Square and the city’s subway.

However, Haroon’s father Rashid Haroon had approached the high court and sought its intervention to stop the process saying his son had falsely been accused of being a fugitive. He had challenged the district administration’s decision to extradite his son to the US.

Read more: US to continue normal consular operations in Pakistan: MoFA

Earlier, IHC had stayed the extradition process and sought a copy of the district magistrate’s inquiry report which had recommended that the American citizen of Pakistani origin, accused of facilitating the Islamic State – Da’esh – in a plan to attack New York, should be extradited.

He had made the secretary of the interior ministry, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general, Adiala Jail superintendent, and the district administration as respondents.

Suspect not a Citizen: MoI

During the course of hearing, the Interior Ministry had submitted its para-wise comments in the case wherein it stated that “Talha Haroon (petitioner’s son) is not a citizen of Pakistan, therefore, no fundamental rights can be accrued under the Constitution of Pakistan.”

The ministry had said that Talha was a US Citizen by birth and had not applied to forego his US nationality and had entered Pakistan on a visa. Subsequently, on January 15, 2017, an additional deputy commissioner of Islamabad administration had decided to extradite Talha to US government after it demanded for him.

Read more: WikiLeaks’ Assange arrested in London on US extradition request

On March 27, 2017, however, the IHC had stayed the process on a petition of Talha’s father. May 3 judgment has upheld the stay with directions to the inquiry magistrate to decide the matter in 60 days.

Pak-US Extradition Treaty

In January 2010, the government had admitted that Pakistan had an extradition treaty with the United States.

Weeks after denying about the extradition treaty, the government had said that the two countries had an accord for return of fugitives as per a 1973 notification. “We have an extradition treaty with the US,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit had said at a media briefing.

The US-Pakistan accord has roots in a US-UK treaty of 1932, which was then applicable to all colonial territories. Pakistan inherited it after coming into existence in 1947 and, subsequently, through a notification in February 1973, the US was included among the countries with which it had the treaty.

Extradition Treaties with UK, Ireland

In November 2018, the federal cabinet on Thursday approved an agreement pertaining to the exchange of prisoners with the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Read more: Extradition of Altaf Hussain: Interior Ministry calls a meeting

In October 2018, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had met British Home Secretary Sajid Javid in London to discuss issues related to the provision of mutual legal assistance, extradition requests, prisoner transfer agreement and steps to curb money laundering as well as recovery of assets acquired through illegal means.