Brussels, Asharq Al-Awsat- A court in The Hague has turned down a US request to hand over a Dutch citizen of Egyptian origin suspected of illegal involvement in facilitating telephone conversations between members of al Qaeda. This latest decision supersedes an earlier decision by a lower court, which agreed on handing over the 39-year-old man.
According to the new judgment, the earlier court decision had required guarantees that the Egyptian suspect would be tried for forgery as part of his illegal communication and that the US authorities would not try him for matters related to terrorism but these guarantees where not met.
The Dutch authorities had received a diplomatic promise from the US embassy but this was not deemed sufficient.
The defense lawyer conveyed on behalf of his client his happiness at the court’s decision and indicated that this was the first judgment to turn down a US request to extradite a suspect. He planned to present a request to the courts to free his client currently in a special jail from those awaiting extradition. It remains to be seen whether the decision would be changed on appeal to the higher appeals court.
This latest decision comes in the wake of another request by Washington D.C to hand over a Dutch national of Iraqi origin for his relations with insurgents in Iraq. The US indictment stated that Wissam, aged 32, born in Fallujah, is implicated in attacks against US forces in the Iraqi city, as well as possessing explosives and ammunition, according to reports in the Dutch media on Wednesday.
A long-time resident in the Netherlands, Wissam was arrested by the Dutch police in May 2005 after it received information from its US counterpart. Washington demanded he be handed over in July. The Iraqi denies any links to terrorism or insurgents in Iraq.
Detained at his home, Wissam indicated that he videotaped the fighting that coincided with his a visit to Fallujah and brought the tape back to the Netherlands to show Dutch citizens the reality in Iraq. If extradited, he could face life imprisonment.