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UK court approves extradition of terror suspect to US

A British court on Friday approved the extradition of alleged al Qaeda [JURIST news archive] operative Abid Naseer to the US, where he will stand trial on several charges of terrorism [DOJ press release], including providing material support to terrorists. In July, Naseer was one of five men indicted on terrorism charges [JURIST report] for his alleged involvement in the September 2009 New York City subway bomb plot [JURIST news archive]. Naseer was arrested in the UK in response to a US request that he stand trial for his alleged attempts to plant bombs in New York, Norway and the UK. Naseer's lawyers have fought his extradition to the US citing concerns that the US may attempt to deport him [BBC report] to his native country of Pakistan. Their concerns are supported by a ruling [JURIST report] issued in May by the UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission [official website], which concluded that it was not possible for Naseer to be deported to Pakistan without facing torture or death. In his ruling, Judge Quentin Purdy acknowledged concerns [AFP report] regarding Naseer's possible removal to Pakistan, but ultimately rejected the argument stating that the US court system protects the due process rights of all people subject to its jurisdiction. Before Naseer's extradition becomes official, it must be approved by the British Home Secretary. Naseer's lawyers have indicated that they plan to appeal the ruling.

Naseer is unlikely to face extradition until the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] rules on a similar series of extradition cases that are currently before the court. In July, the ECHR stayed the extradition of four terrorism suspects [JURIST report] 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 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 UK High Court approved the extradition of Aswat and Ahmad to the US in 2006, while the extradition of Hamza was approved [JURIST reports] by a British court in 2007. The ECHR is reconsidering the evidence [Telegraph report] against the men and trying to determine if the US sentencing standards would lead to an Article 3 violation of the suspects' human rights.

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