NEW YORK (TIP): A US judge sentenced two British men to a combined total of 20.5 years in prison on Wednesday for conspiring to provide and for providing equipment and personnel to the Taliban.Computer engineer Babar Ahmad was sentenced to 12.5 years and Syed Talha Ahsan, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in custody, to time served at eight years.They were arrested by British police in 2004 and 2006 respectively and extradited to the United States in 2012 as part of a batch of Britons wanted on terror charges.
British campaigners bitterly opposed their extradition on the grounds that they were held so long without charge and arguing they should be tried at home. Both sentences were lighter than demanded by prosecutors. Ahmad, 40, and Ahsan, 34, were indicted in Connecticut on charges of conspiring to support and supporting the Taliban regime in Afghanistan while they sheltered Al-Qaida, Chechens fighting the Russians and related terror groups.For years, they pleaded not guilty but in December changed their plea on two counts of the indictment — conspiring to provide and providing support to the former Taliban regime.
US district judge Janet Hall sentenced Ahmad to 150 months’ imprisonment and Ahsan to 96 months, or time already served. The case was heard in US federal court in New Haven, Connecticut because websites they ran in London relied for a time on a Connecticut hosting company. Ahsan is now expected to be released and deported. Ahmad has already served a decade in custody and reports suggest he too could be freed in months. Their cases attracted the support of thousands in Britain and campaigners say Ahmad was the Briton held the longest without charge as part of the global “war on terror.” The son of a retired civil servant and a retired science teacher, Ahmad worked in the IT department of London’s prestigious Imperial College at the time of his arrest.