Friday, September 7, 2007

Briton Freed From Pakistan Re-Arrested

LONDON (AP) - A Briton released by Pakistan after more than a year in custody was arrested shortly after his plane landed Friday at London's Heathrow Airport, police said.

A handcuffed Rangzieb Ahmed was pulled off the plane by armed police who boarded it as soon as its doors opened.

Manchester police, who made the arrest, said Ahmed was being held under Britain's terrorism laws.

Ahmed was arrested Aug. 25, 2006, in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province for alleged links with al-Qaida. A U.S. human rights group said he had been tortured in custody.

Pakistani officials did not charge him, and a review board headed by Supreme Court Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar ordered his release Aug. 31, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

"The fact is that during one year of detention, the Pakistanis, the British and the U.S. have been unable to unearth a shred of evidence against this person," said Ali Dayan Hasan, South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Ahmed said he was interrogated several times by U.S. law enforcement personnel from unidentified agencies and by British security services, but he denied wrongdoing and involvement with al-Qaida, Human Rights Watch said.

Ali said he did not know why Ahmed had been detained. Pakistan held Ahmed under its security powers and was not obliged to specify on what charges he was held, Ali said.

Manchester police said Ahmed was 32, while Pakistani officials said he was 30.

Ahmed, who was born in the northern England city of Manchester, traveled to Pakistan last year to visit relatives, said his brother, Mohammed Pervaiz.

Pervaiz said Ahmed was tortured in Pakistani custody and was told by a prosecutor in court that the government had "secret evidence" against him. British officials were not allowed to see Ahmed because Pakistan claimed he held joint Pakistani citizenship, he said.

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