LONDON, (Reuters) – A Moroccan accused by Spain of terrorist offences linked to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States lost an appeal against extradition from Britain on Friday.
Farid Hilali, suspected by Spain of having links to a Syrian-born al Qaeda cell leader, had put forward seven arguments against his extradition but High Court judge Thomas Scott Baker dismissed them all.
“None of the reasons put forward, either individually or collectively, amounts to a good reason why the appellant should not be extradited,” he said.
Hilali now has 14 days to appeal to Britain’s highest court, the House of Lords. If he does not, he will be extradited to Spain within days.
Spanish prosecutors accuse Hilali of having links to Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, convicted in Madrid in September last year of leading a terrorist group and of “conspiracy to commit terrorist murder” in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.
Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, was jailed for 27 years.
Spain says Hilali telephoned Yarkas several times in the weeks before the 2001 suicide hijackings and, in one call, said “he had a month to go and that he had some important matters to do.”
Hilali talked to Yarkas of “cutting the bird’s throat”, Spanish prosecutors said, saying they took this to be a reference to the bald eagle, symbol of the United States.
Hilali was arrested in Britain in September 2003 and accused of immigration offences. He has been held in Britain since then. His lawyers have argued that if sent to Spain, he could be re-extradited to Morocco where he could face the death penalty.