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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 21:34 GMT
Pilot complains over 9/11 arrest
Lotfi Raissi with wife, Sonya and mother Rabea
Lotfi Raissi (centre) says his life was destroyed by accusations
A pilot wrongly accused of training the 9/11 hijackers has lodged a formal complaint against Scotland Yard.

UK-based Lotfi Raissi said his high-profile arrest and incarceration had destroyed his life and left him with no career prospects.

The pilot instructor spent five months in London's Belmarsh prison after the FBI asked for him to be arrested shortly after the 11 September attacks.

Scotland Yard said it was not in a position to comment on the matter.

No evidence

Algerian-born Mr Raissi was released from Belmarsh and in April 2002 all charges against him were dropped.

A British court said there was no evidence to back up the US request that he be extradited.

I have no prospect of a job, no prospect of a career... I am not OK
Lotfi Raissi

Mr Raissi said on Thursday his thoughts had been with the American people after the 11 September attacks.

"I was shocked and horrified," he told BBC News. "My heart and feelings were with the American people and people in the Twin Towers."

He described his fear at his arrest at his home on 21 September 2001.

"When someone wakes you up in the night at 3am and there are several officers surrounding the place... to be honest it was like a nightmare.

"I was scared and shocked... it was like a kidnapping."

Compensation call

Mr Raissi said his future prospects were bleak because of the ordeal he had suffered.

"I have no prospect of a job, no prospect of a career. I am not OK. My life has been destroyed."

Mr Raissi's solicitor Jules Carey confirmed that they had asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate the matter.

Mr Carey said: "When something goes grotesquely wrong as it has in this case, there should be some sort of mechanism where people caught up in this are properly compensated for the devastation caused to their lives."

'Vital tool'

A Home Office spokesman said in a statement Mr Raissi had been arrested in the UK in 2001 "pursuant to an extradition request from the United States".

He said the charges against him had been connected to the supply of false information on a US Federal Aviation administration form.

"Underlying the case was a belief by US authorities that Mr Raissi may have been involved in the training of the 9/11 hijackers.

"No supporting evidence of such serious conduct was submitted in support of the extradition request.

"In April 2002, a District Judge at Bow Street Magistrates Court decided to discharge Raissi from extradition proceedings. It is important to emphasise that this was a judicial decision."

The spokesman added that extradition was a "vital tool in the fight against crime", and that the UK took its "international obligations in this area very seriously".

"Within what the law permits, we stand ready to render maximum assistance to our many extradition partners."




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