The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Thursday stayed the extradition of four terrorism suspects from the UK to the US, holding that potential punishment could violate Human Rights Convention [text] provisions on the prohibition of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment. The court issued the injunction in order to further examine evidence [Telegraph report] against the men and determine if the US sentencing standards would lead to an Article 3 violation. The court denied claims that the men would be treated as "enemy combatants" if extradited to the US. The suspects include British citizens Haroon Rashid Aswat, Seyla Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad [advocacy website; BBC profile] and Egyptian-born radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. All four men are wanted in the US on terrorism charges. The court held that the allegations against Ahmad, Aswat and Ahsan presented a serious risk that the men could face imprisonment without parole at ADX Florence [BOP backgrounder], a super-maximum security prison in Colorado. Hamza's stay of extradition was based solely on further examination of evidence, as he is less likely to serve a lengthy sentence. The court stated the reexamination of evidence against the men was necessary as their complaints raised "serious" questions of highly complex fact and law. The ECHR gave the UK government until September 2 to submit new or revised observations and evidence to be considered in the examination of the case on its merits.
The UK High Court approved the extradition [JURIST report] of Aswat and Ahmad to the US in 2006. Aswat is wanted in the US on suspicion of setting up a terrorist training camp and Ahmad is wanted for conspiring to kill Americans and running a website used to fund terrorists and recruit al Qaeda members. The extraditions were approved only after the US offered assurances that it would not seek the death penalty, try the suspects before military tribunals or declare them enemy combatants. The extradition of Hamza was approved [JURIST report] by a British court in 2007. Hamza, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence in the UK [JURIST report] for urging his followers to kill Jews and other non-Muslims, faces US charges of attempting to establish terrorist training camps in Oregon, conspiring to take hostages in Yemen, and helping terror training in Afghanistan.