A convicted al-Qaida fundraiser with links to the Charlie Hebdo attacks is using Britain’s Human Rights Act to avoid deportation to his homeland of Algeria, the Telegraph has disclosed.
Baghdad Meziane was a close associate of Djamel Beghal, a convicted terrorist who recruited and mentored two of the gunmen who staged the Paris attacks. The two lived close to each other in Leicester, and Meziane once supplied Beghal with a false passport to enable him to travel to Afghanistan to train with al-Qaida. Beghal’s wife still lives in Leicester on benefits, and has appealed her own conviction for aiding Beghal in terrorism on Human Rights grounds.
Beghal was imprisoned in France after a plot to blow up the US Embassy in Paris was foiled. Under questioning – he claims to have been tortured – he confessed to the plot, leading to the arrest in Leicester of Meziane and Brahim Benmerzouga, another Algerian living in Leiceser.
Following his arrest, Meziane was jailed for 11 years in 2003 for running a terror network. However, as he has two children in the UK he has since successfully evaded deportation by the Home Office since his release in 2009, by claiming a right to family life, and by arguing that he is vulnerable to torture if returned to Algeria.
A Home Office spokesman has confirmed that Meziane is still in the country but would not comment further on his case, other than to say “We are in the process of removing Meziane.”
The spokesman said that the Home Office would continue to press for deportation for criminals, saying “Deportation with assurances enables us to remove people from the UK, in line with our existing international obligations, even when there are substantial grounds to believe they face a real risk of treatment contravening their human rights in their home country.
“We have already removed nine individuals under our Deportation With Assurances agreement with Algeria. However, we do not routinely comment on individual cases.”
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said that the case highlights the need to scrap the Human Rights Act, introduced by the Labour government in 1998 just one year after they swept to power under Tony Blair.
Mr Grayling said: “It’s a nonsense that people who are a threat to our society are able to use their human rights to avoid being sent back to their home country when it is clear they have no regard for the human rights of our citizens. That’s why it’s time to scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act, and put in place a completely new approach to human rights laws which means that this kind of thing can be stopped.”
Prof Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at Buckingham University, said: “It is extraordinary that this person should be in the UK and a serious threat to our national security given what we know about the way the Paris attacks on Charlie Hebdo were organised.
“The proper definition of human rights legislation is the right to be free from terrorists and the right to go about our normal business without fear of being attacked. It is simply unacceptable that this is being done in the name of the European Convention on Human Rights.”