- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

LONDON Extradition proceedings against Algerian pilot Lofti Raissi once described by U.S. authorities as a trainer for the September 11 hijackers were dropped yesterday after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence he was linked to terrorism or had committed any crime.
No further extradition proceedings are planned against Mr. Raissi, who has been free on bail since February. It was the first September 11-related case outside of the United States to fall apart since the attacks.
Judge Timothy Workman turned down a U.S. request seeking Mr. Raissi's extradition on lesser charges of lying to the Federal Aviation Authority when he filled out a form seeking to extend his pilot's license in April 2001.
Judge Workman also said during the daylong hearing at Bow Street Magistrate's Court in London that U.S. authorities had provided no evidence Mr. Raissi was linked to terrorism.
"He has appeared before me on several occasions where allegations of involvement with terrorism were made," Judge Workman told the court. "I would like to make it clear that I have received and the court has received no evidence to support such a contention."
Mr. Raissi's family cheered and hugged several of his relatives after the decision.
However, James Lewis, a British prosecutor representing the United States, told the court that Mr. Raissi "continues to be the subject of an ongoing investigation into those responsible for the September 11 attacks. That is a separate matter."
Mr. Raissi was arrested 10 days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At the time, prosecutors said he was one of their most important terrorism suspects in custody.
But they began backing away from those charges early this year, and he was released on bail in February nearly five months after his arrest when the United States conceded it couldn't link him to terrorism.

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