AFP : Pakistan to extradite British terror suspect: official

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pakistan to extradite British terror suspect: official

November 15, 2007

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan has started proceedings for the extradition to Britain of Rashid Rauf, a suspect in a plot to blow up US-bound passenger planes, a senior official said Thursday.

Pakistan's arrest of British national Rauf in August 2006 sparked a worldwide security alert and arrests in Britain.

"We have started the legal proceedings today for the extradition of Rashid Rauf. He is wanted by the British government," Tariq Pervaz, director general of Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency, told AFP.

"The proceedings will take a week to 10 days," Pervaz said.

"The extradition will be decided on by a court of law after the completion of the formalities."

Pakistan's outgoing cabinet had earlier Thursday ratified an agreement on the transfer of prisoners between Pakistan and Britain, a statement from Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's office said.

"They have not sent him yet but they are planning to deport him," Rauf's lawyer Hashmat Habib told AFP.

"It will be an illegal hijacking because Pakistan has no extradition treaty with Britain and in addition to this the Rashid Rauf case is lying before the High Court in Pakistan. He cannot be sent out."

He said it would be difficult to challenge the proceedings because of the state of emergency in Pakistan.

State media reported a Pakistani anti-terrorism court had discharged Rauf on unspecified charges earlier Thursday after they were withdrawn by the Punjab province grovernment. He remains in custody under Pakistan's security laws.

The 25-year-old had faced charges including impersonation, carrying a fake identity card and fake documents, which he denied.

Rauf was arrested in central Pakistan early August 2006, shortly before 24 people were detained in Britain in a major swoop.

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan last December dropped terrorism charges against Rauf relating to the conspiracy to detonate liquid explosives on jets flying from London to the United States in August.

Its order was suspended when the Punjab government lodged its appeal.

In April, the Pakistani foreign ministry denied reports that Rauf would be extradited to Britain in exchange for separatist leaders.