Thursday 21 September 2017

US terrorism suspect should not be extradited, High Court told

Ali Charaf Damache
Ali Charaf Damache

Niamh O’Donoghue

Lawyers for an Algerian man known as “the black flag”, whose surrender is being sought by the United States on international terrorism charges, have said he should not be extradited because a search of his dwelling was unconstitutional.

Ali Charaf Damache (47), who has been living in Ireland for a decade, is wanted in the United States to face charges relating to the conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists and to attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

Counsel for Damache Mícheál O’Higgins SC said his client’s surrender should not be granted because of the US Government’s reliance of what he called an unconstitutional search of Damache’s dwelling carried out with an invalid warrant.

“Surrender should not be granted because the US Government will use the fruits of that unconstitutional search,” said Mr O’Higgins.

During the discovery application made by the defence, Mr O’Higgins said he and his team need the assistance of New York lawyers from whom they were procuring expert reports, but had not yet received them.

Mr O’ Higgins told the court he also wanted to find out where his client is to be detained if he is surrendered to the US and said he was concerned it may be the ADX super-maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado.

The court has previously heard that prisoners there are kept in complete solitary confinement and conditions were described by a former warden as a “clean version of hell”.

Mr Justice John Edwards said there was no concrete evidence to stand up any of the assertions made by Damache’s legal team.

Damache was arrested in March by gardai in Waterford Courthouse on foot of a High Court warrant just minutes after he had pleaded guilty to sending a menacing phone call to US Muslim activist Majed Moughni in January 2010.

The charges arose after Damache was originally arrested in March 2010 as part of an unrelated investigation in to a large conspiracy to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who sparked an international controversy by depicting the Prophet Mohammed on the head of a dog.

Damache unexpectedly pleaded guilty on day six of his trial to sending a menacing message by telephone and was sentenced to three years. However, as he had been in custody since March 2010, he was released immediately.

The judge adjourned the case until tomorrow and his extradition hearing is fixed over three days beginning on September 10.

Mark Lynham BL, for Damache, previously told the court that the length of the hearing would be dependent on the outcome of a discovery motion sought by the respondent.

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