BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
Terror accused demands apology
Lotfi Raissi
Raissi claims his human rights were breached
An Algerian pilot wrongly accused of training the hijackers who carried out the 11 September attacks has said he is considering taking legal action against the British and American authorities.

Lotfi Raissi spent five months in jail until all the charges were dropped when no evidence was found.

He will begin legal proceedings unless he receives a public apology, he said in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme.


I was Muslim, Algerian, Arabic and a pilot - it just gave them a licence to discriminate

Lotfi Raissi

Mr Raissi was arrested in London on 21 September at the request of the FBI, who believed he had crucial information about the terror attacks, in which nearly 3,000 died.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme he told how after being arrested in the early hours of the morning he was interviewed by anti-terrorist officers.

'Shock'

He said: "They were shouting at one stage that I was the person that prepared the 11 September atrocity, that I was the person that trained the pilots, that I was the person who killed thousands of people - that was a shock."

He spent more than five months on remand in high-security Belmarsh prison in south east London.

Mr Raissi claimed that in prison he was subjected to physical and verbal "attacks".

"One of the guards said to me 'We will feed you to the dogs'," he said.

Mr Raissi was released but re-arrested by American authorities. In April, the charges were dropped.

The BBC's Gordon Corera said: "All they could muster was that he had lied about an injury and an old theft conviction on his application for a pilot's licence. Any evidence linking him to the attacks was wrong."

Saying sorry

Mr Raissi told the programme he wanted a public apology from both the British and US authorities for his treatment and the impact on his life.

He wants the Crown Prosecution Service, New Scotland Yard and the FBI to say sorry for the "discrimination and abuse of human rights".


We are satisfied that all procedures were followed correctly

Home Office

"I was Muslim, Algerian, Arabic and a pilot - it just gave them a licence to discriminate," he told the Today programme.

If no apology is forthcoming, he said he will instruct his lawyers to take legal action.

In a statement, the Home Office said on Wednesday the request for Mr Raissi's extradition was made by the US Government "in the proper manner" and was then given judicial consideration by the UK courts.

Inquiry sought

It said Mr Raissi was entitled to contest the extradition, which he did, and to apply for bail during his custody, which he also successfully obtained.

"We are satisfied that all procedures were followed correctly and we can have no further comment to make about the judicial outcome of an individual's case," said the statement.

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat's foreign affairs spokesman, told the Today programme he believed Mr Raissi was "at the very least" entitled to an investigation into his arrest and time in custody.

"I can see that in the immediate aftermath after 11th September someone like him ... might be the object of suspicion, but such suspicion should be based upon some sort of evidence," he said.

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes