Talha's brother Hamja, author of Shy Radicles, only took to campaigning about autism after his brother, the award winning poet Talha Ahsan, was arrested in 2006 following a request from the US Government to have him extradited. Talha was detained in Britain without charges or trial for over 6 years before eventually being extradited to the United States—one of the longest such detentions without trial in British history. Unlike the similar case of Garry McKinnon (also involving internet activity), whose extradition to the US was blocked by the UK Government on the basis of his autism and potential risk of suicide if sent to the US, Talha (same diagnosis, same risks) was extradited to the US and held in solitary confinement for nearly two years awaiting trial. Both cases have been widely reported and readers can come to their own conclusions why McKinnon received different treatment from Ahsan.
Lauri Love Garry McKinnon
Another high profile extradition case has recently been ruled on in the UK High Court. The ruling not to extradite 33 year old autistic man Lauri Love to the US (under David Blunkett's perverse, legislative knee jerk reaction to terrorism) was based on the same concerns as those posed by Garry McKinnon's defence: the risk of suicide associated with these young men's diagnosis of autism were they to be imprisoned in the US. Of course UK citizens deserve the right for allegations against them to be investigated and tried in their own country. But if these arguments applied to Garry McKinnon and Lauri Love, then again, why was Talha Ahsan detained without trial for 6 years in the UK and then extradited to the US for an allegation supported by even less evidence than the cases of Love or McKinnon? Following Love's hearing on 5th February 2018, in this article, one journalist at least had the alertness to pose the question as to whether in Mr Ahsan's case, ignorance of autism was compounded by racism.
The cases of Garry McKinnon and Lauri Love have been so widely reported in the media that there is no need to repeat them in this post. When properly understanding the passion and motivation behind both these young men's fascination and preoccupation with internet activity, it is clear that they are neither criminal nor a danger to society; quite the reverse, their significant skills should be sought after and put to positive use.