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Fri, Feb 15, 2008

Accused Pilot Wins Appeal For Compensation Claim

Lotfi Raissi Was Detained Following 9/11

An Algerian pilot who was among hundreds of "persons of interest" detained in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks won the right this week to sue the British government for wrongful imprisonment.

Reuters reports Lotfi Raissi, 33, was accused by US authorities of being linked to Hani Hanjour, the terrorist believed to have been at the control as American 77 flew into the Pentagon. He was arrested in London 10 days after the attacks, and held in the high-security Belmarsh prison.

He was released in 2002, after the allegations were proven false -- and as US authorities fought for extradition. To this day, Raissi claims, he remains blacklisted from any jobs with an airline.

As ANN reported, Raissi sued the US government in 2003 for damages; that case is still pending. In February 2007, the British government rejected a separate claim for compensation, that Raissi filed in 2004.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal in London agreed Raissi had a valid complaint, and ordered the government to reconsider the compensation claim... calling the way extraditions and refusal of bail were conducted in the days after 9/11 were "an abuse of process."

In addition to compensation, Raissi says he wants a public apology from the British government.

"I want a widely publicized apology for the part that they played. I am not a terrorist, I abhor terrorism," he told BBC television. In a separate interview with Channel 4, Raissi said he has "been through an appalling tragedy... I have been struggling for the last six years and-a-half.

"I suffered a great injustice," he added. "I believe I can restore my life and go back to aviation and get on with my life."

But whether Raissi will actually collect any money, or retribution, is open for speculation. Following the appeals court ruling, the Ministry of Justice said it might, in turn, appeal the appeal.

FMI: www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/1235.htm, www.justice.gov.uk/

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