ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior has informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on a petition filed against the imminent extradition of a US citizen on the charges of planning terrorist attacks in New York City that the suspect is not a Pakistani national and hence cannot claim fundamental rights as guaranteed in the Constitution.

In a report submitted to the IHC, the ministry said Talha Haroon “is not a citizen of Pakistan, therefore, no fundamental rights can be accrued under the constitution of Pakistan.”

In the petition, Mr Haroon’s father said his son was innocent and had the fundamental right to the freedom of life guaranteed to him under Article 9 read with Article 14 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Interior ministry informs IHC that Talha Haroon cannot claim fundamental rights as guaranteed in Constitution

The suspect is currently confined in Adiala Jail since September 2016. Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Sattar Essani on Jan 15 recommended to the federal government that the accused may be extradited to the US under section 13 of the Extradition Act 1972.

While the district administration of Islamabad on the request of the US authorities had completed the extradition process, the IHC on March 27 stayed the process with a direction to the federal government to submit a reply.

According to the investigation carried out by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Haroon was in Pakistan in April last year and planned attacks on the New York Subway, Times Square and a concert hall.

The investigation also claimed that Mr Haroon had been associated with the outlawed Taliban in the past and later switched his allegiance to the IS.

According to the report, the government had directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take custody of the suspect from Adiala Jail and hand him over to the US authorities under intimation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The FIA took custody of the suspect on March 24 but deferred his extradition in compliance of the IHC orders.

Citing an inquiry conducted by the additional deputy commissioner, the report said, “sufficient incriminating documentary evidence is available on the record and it is safely concluded that prima facie a case is made out against the accused.”

The report recommended that “the accused may be extradited to the US in view of prima facie case against him as per the requirement of section 10 of the Extradition Act 1972.”

The Islamabad administration in its comments filed with the IHC defended its inquiry which recommended the extradition of the suspect.

“A discrete inquiry was conducted by the US intelligence agencies… the fugitive offender (Haroon) remained in contact with a special agent (of the FBI) and told him about the conspiracy to commit crimes in the US.”

The FBI claimed that Haroon with the IS support wanted to carry out Paris style attacks in NYC around June 2016. It said the suspects had “identified multiple potential targets to launch terrorist attacks in the New York City.”

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2017