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Europe rights court blocks extradition of terror suspect to US

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Tuesday blocked [judgment; press release, PDF] the extradition of Haroon Aswat, a former aide to radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], from the UK to the US. The court said that removing Aswat [Guardian report], a UK-based terror suspect whose nationality is unknown, to an American high-security prison would constitute "inhuman or degrading treatment," especially in light of the fact that Aswat suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. According to the panel of judges, extradition to a country in which Aswat has no ties and placement in a potentially more hostile prison environment would cause a significant deterioration [AP report] in his mental and physical health.

In July 2010 the ECHR stayed the extradition [JURIST report] of Aswat, Hamza and two other 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 UK High Court approved the extradition [JURIST report] of Aswat to the US in 2006. Aswat is wanted in the US on suspicion of setting up a terrorist training camp. The extradition was approved only after the US offered assurances that it would not seek the death penalty, try Aswat along with his cohort before military tribunals or declare them enemy combatants. Hamza was extradited and made his first US court appearance in October, pleading not guilty [JURIST reports] to charges of terrorism.

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