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Extradition Hearings Begin for Algerian Pilot Linked to Terror Attacks - 2001-11-27

The United States has begun extradition proceedings in Britain against an Algerian pilot linked to some of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks against the United States.

British prosecutors, acting on behalf of U.S. authorities, went to court in London to begin the extradition process against Algerian pilot Lotfi Raissi. A U.S. federal grand jury has indicted Mr. Raissi for allegedly lying on his application for a Federal Aviation Administration pilot's license.

Prosecutors say Mr. Raissi also gave flight training to some of the hijackers who crashed a jetliner into the Pentagon on September 11.

But the 27-year-old Raissi has not been formally charged in the terrorist attacks. Prosecutors say they are still building their case. Mr. Raissi's lawyer says his client is not a terrorist. Mr. Raissi has been in custody since September 21. His next court date is December 14.

In another development, a controversial proposal to crack down on suspected foreign terrorists in Britain has moved a step closer to becoming law.

The lower house of parliament approved the measure, sending it to the upper house for final debate. Government officials say they expect the bill to become law by the end of December.

The new law would give the government power to detain, without trial, foreigners suspected of having links to terrorism. Civil libertarians call the proposal an assault on centuries of British legal freedoms.