Spain seeks Guantánamo duo's extradition

21st December 2007, Comments 0 comments

Judge pursues pair for alleged membership of Al Qaeda.

21 December 2007

MADRID - Spanish authorities are seeking the extradition of two Arab men arrested in Britain on Thursday, a day after they were released from the US prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Omar Deghayes, a 38-year-old Libyan national, and Jamil El Banna, a 45-year-old Jordanian, are sought in Spain on charges of conspiring to commit terrorist attacks in relation to the 2001 dismantling of a Spanish Al Qaeda cell by High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón. The British residents are two of three terrorism suspects flown from Guantánamo to the UK on Wednesday after US authorities failed to bring charges against them.

El Banna had been held as an enemy combatant at the US prison camp since being arrested in Gambia, West Africa, in November 2002, while Deghayes was seized in 2001 in Pakistan following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Evidence compiled by Judge Garzón suggests that they had previously been in contact with a Spanish Al Qaeda cell led by Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, who is currently serving a 12-year sentence in Spain for membership of a terrorist organisation. However, lawyers representing the men argued yesterday that the Spanish case against them is based on "unsubstantial evidence."

"The idea that they want to use this evidence we've proved to be false to take them for further detention is very worrying," lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith said.

Stafford-Smith said his clients will appeal against extradition. A British judge yesterday agreed to release El Banna on bail of 50,000 pounds (EUR 69,500). Deghayes was also released on bail yesterday.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ A. EATWELL 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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