ISLAMABAD: Wondering if the government has signed extradition treaties with the United Kingdom and the United States, the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday stayed the proposed extradition of a suspect accused of plotting attacks in New York City for IS.
Talha Haroon, 19, was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 after US authorities identified him as one of three men, along with a Canadian citizen and a man from the Philippines, planning attacks on Manhattan’s Times Square and the city’s subway. His counsel and family deny the charges.
“Are there extradition agreements with the US and the UK?” asked the apex court during the hearing of a petition filed by Haroon.
Justice Qazi Amin wondered if a suspect can be extradited in the absence of such an agreement between the two countries.
“America picks up whomever it wants regardless of any mutual agreement [in this regard but] where is the evidence on the basis of which the state seeks to extradite the accused?” asked Justice Amin.
The judge remarked that Pakistan is a sovereign state, declaring the state cannot simply hand over a citizen to another country. “The courts will protect the citizens but we will do it as per the law,” he added.
Giving his argument, the counsel for the petitioner, Idrees Ashraf, recalled the apex court had also issued orders to extradite former ambassador to Washington, Hussain Haqqani, which were never executed.
Ashraf also brought attention to the fact that a single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ruled in his case that the “evidence was not admissible”.
The counsel also told the apex court that in the intra-court appeal, the IHC had asked a magistrate to first determine if Haroon is in fact guilty. He said that his client fears the magistrate may conduct an inquiry just to satisfy the court and issue orders to extradite Haroon.
At this, the court issued a stay order, barring the government from extraditing Haroon while it hears the case.
The court, while summoning the details from the attorney general and foreign ministry, directed the officials to present details of how many prisoners were extradited from and to Pakistan from the US and the UK.
The court, after listening to the lawyer, sought the details of Pakistan’s extradition agreements with the US and UK and adjourned the hearing of the case for two weeks.
The planned attacks, which were thwarted by law enforcement, included detonating explosives in Manhattan’s Times Square and in the city’s subway, according to Reuters.
One of the men, 19-year-old Canadian citizen Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, has been in US custody since May 2016, when he was arrested in New Jersey. He pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in October 2016, the prosecutors said.