UK court halts extradition of Abu Hamza to US

[JURIST] The High Court of England and Wales on Tuesday ordered an injunction against the extradition of Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and Saudi-born Khaled Al-Fawwaz to the US until a formal hearing can be held. The pair were scheduled to be extradited to the US to face terrorism charges stemming from a plan to establish a terrorism training camp within US borders, and will likely face imprisonment without parole at ADX Florence [BOP backgrounder], a super-maximum security prison in Colorado. The injunction closely follows a decision on Monday by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] to finalize its April ruling [JURIST reports] to allow the UK to extradite the suspects to the US. The formal hearings are expected to be held [BBC report] next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The ECHR's decision in April marked a change in position for the court from its position two years ago, when it stayed the extradition [JURIST report] of four of the terrorism suspects to the US, holding that potential punishment could violate European Convention on Human Rights provisions on the prohibition of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment. The 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. A British court approved the extradition [JURIST report] of Hamza 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.

 

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