EU Court Upholds Sanctions Against Bin Laden Associate

(CN) – Europe’s lower court on Tuesday upheld sanctions against a London man who was also a known associate of Osama bin Laden, finding his challenge untimely and the reasons for the sanctions sufficiently detailed to support the asset freeze.

In 2006 and at the request of the United Kingdom, the United Nations Sanctions Committee placed Mohammed al-Ghabra on a list of people associated with al-Qaida, which was headed by bin Laden until his death by U.S. forces in 2011.

Due to al-Ghabra’s inclusion on the U.N. list, his assets were frozen by European Union authorities. He challenged that before the European Commission in 2009, which decided four years later to keep his name on the blacklist.

Al-Ghabra then took his case to the European General Court in 2013.

In a 33-page judgment issued Tuesday, the Luxembourg-based court agreed with arguments made by both Britain and the commission that al-Ghabra’s appeal was untimely – regardless of whether the time limit ran from official publication of his inclusion on the blacklist or his notification thereof, since nothing prevented him from taking his case to court during the commission’s review.

Furthermore, the general court found that the commission’s four-year review of the asset freeze, while long, did not hamper al-Ghabra’s efforts to defend himself.

And while al-Ghabra complained that the commission should have allowed him to see the evidence it had against him, EU law does not require the commission to do so and the courts are tasked with reviewing whether the evidence is sufficiently detailed to warrant blacklisting in any case.

The court also rejected al-Ghabra’s claim that some of the evidence against him was obtained through the torture of al-Qaida detainees, finding nothing to back up that claim.

Finally, regarding al-Ghabra’s argument that the commission’s decision to keep the asset freeze in place was disproportionate because it didn’t take into consideration the risk – or lack thereof – he poses now, the court found that more recent assessments of his ties to al-Qaida carried out by both the U.N. and British authorities bolstered the commission’s decision.

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