Alleged Syrian arms dealer fights extradition to US
5 October 2007 , MADRID- AFP - A Syrian businessman wanted in the US on charges of conspiring to provide weapons to Marxist guerillas in Colombia challenged his extradition request Thursday in a Spanish court.
5 October 2007
MADRID- AFP - A Syrian businessman wanted in the US on charges of conspiring to provide weapons to Marxist guerillas in Colombia challenged his extradition request Thursday in a Spanish court.
Long-time Spanish resident Monzer al-Kassar has been in jail since he was arrested in June as he arrived at Madrid airport on an internal flight.
New York prosecutors have charged him with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering and conspiracy to acquire an anti-aircraft missile and kill US nationals.
They say rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, wanted to use the weapons he supplied to fight US forces aiding Colombia in its battle against drug traffickers.
Kassar faces life imprisonment if convicted.
He denied the US charges during an appearance in a Madrid court Thursday and said he did not believe he could get a fair trial in the US as the extradition request was a form of "political vengeance" sought by President George W. Bush.
"If Spain believes I have committed a crime, my wish is to be tried here," Kassar told the court.
According to prosecutors, Kassar has been an arms dealer since the early 1970s, providing weapons and military equipment to various factions in Nicaragua, Brazil, Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, Somalia, Iran, and Iraq.
Subject: Spanish news