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Europe rights court rejects new request for extradition of terror suspect to US

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Wednesday rejected a new request for the extradition of Haroon Aswat, a former aide to Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], from the UK to the US. The Grand Chamber of the ECHR reasoned [BBC report] that the extradition of the suspect, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, would worsen his mental and physical condition. The court also determined that the requested transfer would violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF], prohibiting inhuman and degrading treatment. However, it expressly held that the recent decision was solely based on the seriousness and possible deterioration of the suspect's health. The ECHR decision is considered final, meaning that the British government cannot extradite Aswat to the US.

Aswat's extradition was previously blocked in April. The ECHR held [JURIST report] that removing Aswat, 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. 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. 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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