Briton jailed in U.S. for supporting Taliban is released

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 19, 2015 10:47 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - A British man who was last year sentenced by a U.S. court to 12-1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to running a website that supported the Taliban, has been released, his family said on Sunday.

Babar Ahmad's sentence included 10 years he had already served. U.S. prosecutors had said his crimes included recruiting fighters for the Taliban and al Qaeda in the run-up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington.

But the judge who sentenced Ahmad said she had not given him the maximum penalty of 25 years as she did not believe he had been directly involved with al Qaeda and was not at risk of being involved in future crimes.

"We, the family of Babar Ahmad, are delighted to announce that ... Babar has returned home to us after 11 years in prison," his family said in a statement.

Ahmad was extradited from Britain in 2012 along with a second man, Syed Talha Ahsan. Both were charged in Connecticut as authorities argued they used an Internet service provider in the state to run at least one of their websites.

Ahmad's lawyers had argued that while he tried to help Muslims under attack in Bosnia and Chechnya through his publications in the 1990s, he regretted supporting the Taliban and condemned the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Eleven years of solitary confinement and isolation in ten different prisons has been an experience too profound to sum up in a few words here and now," Ahmad said. "In time, I look forward to sharing reflections on my experience to help inform others."

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Ros Russell)