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Syed Talha Ahsan is a British poet and translator. He is winner of the Platinum and Bronze Koestler Awards 2012 for his poetry. He was arrested at his family home in London, UK on 19 July 2006 in response to a request from the United States under the US–UK Extradition Act 2003, and detained without trial or charge over 6 years before his extradition to the United States on 5 October 2012. He was accused of associations with an allegedly terrorism-related Islamic news media website and London-based publishing house from 1997 to 2004 about Bosnia, the Chechen Independence War and Afghanistan Islamic Emirate government.

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  • Syed Talha Ahsan is a British poet and translator. He is winner of the Platinum and Bronze Koestler Awards 2012 for his poetry. He was arrested at his family home in London, UK on 19 July 2006 in response to a request from the United States under the US–UK Extradition Act 2003, and detained without trial or charge over 6 years before his extradition to the United States on 5 October 2012. He was accused of associations with an allegedly terrorism-related Islamic news media website and London-based publishing house from 1997 to 2004 about Bosnia, the Chechen Independence War and Afghanistan Islamic Emirate government. On 10 December 2013, in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut he entered into a plea bargain with the US Government prosecutor to charges of conspiracy to provide and providing material support for militants in Chechnya and Afghanistan. All other charges were dismissed. The length of Talha's detention without trial or charge is among the longest in British legal history. He is also the translator of a tenth-century Arabic poem, "Above the Dust", by Syrian Abu Firas Al-Hamdani, on his captivity in Byzantium. The Talha Ahsan extradition case raised controversy due to comparison with the treatment of Gary McKinnon, whose extradition – which was expected to be 10 days after Ahsan's – was stalled after a medical diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and associative risks, similar to a diagnosis given to Ahsan. This has led to accusations from mainstream UK media, human rights NGOs and religious groups of a racist double standard within Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May's application of the law. After being detained without trial for six years, with appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, the House of Lords and the UK High Court, Ahsan was extradited from the UK to the US on 5 October 2012, where he initially pleaded not guilty to all charges against him at a federal district court hearing in New Haven, Connecticut. He was held while awaiting trial in solitary confinement at the Northern Correctional Institution, a Supermax state prison in Somers, Connecticut, United States. His US trial proceedings began in October 2013. On 10 December 2013, he changed his plea to guilty to the charge of providing material support to terrorists. An international campaign led by Talha's brother Hamja Ahsan was formed to halt his extradition to the US and have him tried in the UK on the basis that this is where he was present during the period of the allegation. This was supported by a wide coalition of figures including Noam Chomsky, Robert Hillary King (Angola Three), A. L. Kennedy, Stop the War, Bruce Kent, Plaid Cymru, his MP and Labour cabinet member Sadiq Khan, Caroline Lucas MP, Gerry Conlon, the Muslim Council of Britain, actor Riz Ahmed, and former extradited Britons David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew of the NatWest Three. The family-run campaign continues around issues of solitary confinement and reforming extradition law, with the aim of repatriating Talha to the UK. The campaign also curates events around prison literature, especially poetry. The Free Talha Ahsan family campaign was short-listed for a Liberty Human Rights Award in 2013, described as a "creative and innovative campaign" and in its use of art, poetry, film and music to bring the issue of summary extradition to wider public and political attention described as "inspiring". (en)
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  • Koestler Trust platinum and bronze award (en)
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  • 1979-09-21 (xsd:date)
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  • London, United Kingdom (en)
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  • BA Arabic, SOAS, University of London (en)
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  • Syed Talha Ahsan (en)
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  • Award winning poet and professional translator (en)
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  • Syed Talha Ahsan is a British poet and translator. He is winner of the Platinum and Bronze Koestler Awards 2012 for his poetry. He was arrested at his family home in London, UK on 19 July 2006 in response to a request from the United States under the US–UK Extradition Act 2003, and detained without trial or charge over 6 years before his extradition to the United States on 5 October 2012. He was accused of associations with an allegedly terrorism-related Islamic news media website and London-based publishing house from 1997 to 2004 about Bosnia, the Chechen Independence War and Afghanistan Islamic Emirate government. (en)
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  • Syed Talha Ahsan (en)
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  • Syed Talha Ahsan (en)
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