Sep 6 2012
A businessman is seeking a private prosecution against two UK terror suspects.
Karl Watkin said he wanted to prosecute Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, rather than outsource the UK's criminal justice system to the US, whose authorities are trying to extradite the pair.
Ahmad has been in jail without trial since 2004 while fighting extradition and has pleaded to be charged and tried in Britain.
The pair are accused of being involved in a website which encouraged terrorism and which, while operated from London, was hosted in the US.
Neither has been charged with an offence in the UK relating to the website Azzam.com, even though the investigation by US authorities includes evidence seized by the Metropolitan Police. The CPS has refused to prosecute the men.
Newcastle-based businessman Mr Watkin, who is among campaigners who oppose the 2003 Extradition Act, said: "I don't know whether these men are totally innocent or as guilty as hell - that's for a court to determine with the benefit of all the evidence.
"But as Britons living and working here, having potentially committed serious crimes here, there is no question they should not be tried here. The public interest demands it. We do not need to outsource our criminal justice system to America."
A private prosecution is the "only way to ensure British sovereignty over the prosecution of British citizens accused of criminal conduct in Britain", he said.
In an interview with the BBC in April, Ahmad said that if he had been charged and tried in 2003, he would likely have been released from a British prison by now, even if he had been found guilty.
Mr Watkin, who has business interests in China and Australia, is seeking consent from Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, to proceed with the private prosecution for alleged breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000.