SC stays terror suspect Talha Haroon’s extradition to US
The Supreme Court Monday stayed the extradition of Talha Haroon – a US national of Pakistani origin who is accused of planning terror attacks in New York – to the United States till further orders, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Moreover, the court also sought the details of Pakistan’s extradition treaties with the United States and the United Kingdom. It also summoned the attorney general and the foreign ministry officials along with the relevant record while adjourning the hearing for two weeks.
As a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam heard the matter, Justice Qazi Amin remarked how extradition could place between the two countries if there was no agreement between Pakistan and the US.
He also asked about the evidence which could lead to extraditing the accused and observed: “We will protect our citizens according to law.”
“By the way, the United States takes away whomever it wants without any agreement,” the Supreme Court observed.
Tariq Mehmood – the counsel for the petitioner – argued that a single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ruled in May last year that the evidence of handing over Talha to the United States was not admissible.
“The inquiry is left to the magistrate,” he said, “It is feared that the magistrate will hand over the accused Talha Haroon to the United States.”
The single-member IHC bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani had barred the government from handing over Talha to the United States.
Justice Kiyani had observed that a citizen could not be extradited solely on the basis of postal correspondence between Islamabad and Washington.
The high court said the investigation officer probing the matter in the US and Haroon's lawyer should appear before an inquiry magistrate. The inquiry magistrate was directed to decide the case within 60 days.
Later, both the federal government and Haroon Rashid, father of Talha Haroon, challenged the decision of the single-member bench.
In its decision, a two-member division bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, set aside the condition of personal appearance and cross-examination of the investigation officer of the foreign country.
“We deem it appropriate also to direct the inquiry magistrate to give a finding on the question whether conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism (i.e. the offence which appellant No 2 is alleged to have committed) is an extradition offence so as to attract the provisions of the 1972 Act,” the verdict.
Soon after the verdict, Haroon moved the Supreme Court to ensure that his son wasn’t extradited to the US.
The investigation carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Talha was in Pakistan in April 2016 and planned multiple terrorist attacks in New York City.
The FBI claimed that he wanted to carry out Paris-style attacks in New York City around June 2016 with Islamic State group’s support.
It said the suspects “identified multiple potential targets of their plot to launch terrorist attacks in New York City.” One of the targets was the New York City subway besides Times Square and a concert hall.
The FBI also said that Talha had been associated with the outlawed Taliban before switching his allegiance to the Islamic State group.