A man accused of having taught at least one of the September suicide pilots how to fly has been granted bail by a London judge. Lofti Raissi is now free after being held for five months in a high-security prison in Britain.
Algerian-born Lotfi Raissi has posted his bond and is free. British Judge Timothy Workman concluded that after five months, U.S. charges that Lotfi Raissi has terrorist links were no longer credible.
Last month, Judge Workman told U.S. authorities who were seeking Mr. Raissi's extradition, to either bring terrorist charges against him or proceed with a relatively minor aviation offense.
Concluding that U.S. officials had not established any connections between the pilot and Osama bin Laden's network, Mr. Raissi was allowed to leave the high-security Belmarsh prison after paying $14,000 in bail. In addition to posting bail, Mr. Raissi was instructed to surrender his passport and told not to leave the country.
Lotfi Raissi's wife, Sonia, feels vindicated by the judge's decision. "Justice has been done," she said. "From the beginning, we said Lotfi has got nothing to do with all this. We've said it again and again and again."
A British prosecutor working on behalf of the United States, James Lewis said Washington does not currently intend to seek Mr. Raissi's extradition on the terrorist charge, but it does want him extradited on two charges of falsifying applications for a pilot's license.
Those two charges stem from his failure to disclose his conviction nine years ago on a theft charge and his failure to mention that he had knee surgery.
Mr. Raissi is scheduled to appear in court on March 28 to face these relatively minor charges. Most legal experts here do not believe they are strong enough to warrant a court to allow his extradition.