Qaeda suspect loses Dutch extradition battle to US

Dutch-Pakistani Al-Qaeda suspect Sabir Khan on Tuesday lost a bid to stop his extradition to the United States, where he is accused of planning acts of terror, including a suicide attack on a US base in Afghanistan.

"The presiding judge dismisses the plaintiff's bid," Dutch judge Gerard van Ham said in the Hague district court verdict published online.

Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten in December gave his final approval for the extradition of Khan, 26, but his lawyers sought to overturn that ruling by saying that the US was complicit in his torture in Pakistan, where he was first arrested in 2010.

Khan's lawyer Andre Seebregts told judge Van Ham that Khan, arrested in a dawn raid in the western Pakistani city of Quetta on September 23, 2010, had been tortured while in a Pakistani jail with the full knowledge of US intelligence agencies.

His extradition to face five terror-related charges in a New York court would breach the European Convention on Human Rights preventing torture as well as Dutch law, which prohibits the handing over of a suspect to a country suspected of involvement in torture, Seebregts argued.

The lawyer further claimed that once Khan was in US hands, his rights were potentially threatened because a previous Dutch terror suspect was mistreated while in US custody.

Tuesday's judgement however said that "in light of Khan's urgent application it cannot be assumed that US authorities were (directly) involved in his torture in Pakistan", which would have violated his rights and prevented his extradition.

Further, said the judge, the agreement between the Dutch and US authorities to extradite Khan was based on the Dutch authorities' confidence that the US would respect Khan's rights once he gets there.

Minister Opstelten said in December that US justice officials had undertaken that Khan would not be tried before a military court or held in a military prison and that any sentence could be served in a Dutch prison.

"It has to be concluded that the plaintiff has given insufficient plausible cause to conclude that his rights would be violated," judge Van Ham added.

Khan was flown to the Netherlands in April 2011 after Pakistan handed him over to Dutch diplomats and he was promptly re-arrested upon arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

US officials filed a formal request for his extradition two months later.

Khan's lawyer Seebregts said he will now take the case to the European Court of Human Rights where a decision on suspending the extradition order verdict was expected by March 5.

A Dutch Justice Ministry official told AFP the government would see how the case before the ECHR developed before making any extradition arrangements.