Abu Hamza loses appeal against US extradition

October 5, 2012 2:28 pm
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Hamza – who wears a hook where his right hand once was – has been in prison for eight years/AFP
LONDON, Oct 05, 2012 (AFP) – Radical Islamist preacher Abu Hamza and four other men are set to be extradited to the United States after a British court on Friday rejected their last-ditch attempts to block their removal.

Two senior judges at the High Court in London dismissed a plea by Hamza, an Egyptian-born 54-year-old former imam, to be allowed a stay of extradition in order for medical tests to be carried out to assess his fitness to face trial.

Fellow terror suspects Khaled Al-Fawwaz, Syed Tahla Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Babar Ahmad were also denied an injunction.

Judge John Thomas said: “The applications by all five claimants must be dismissed. It follows that their extradition to the United States of America may proceed immediately.”

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in September that all five men could be extradited, but the High Court ordered the government to halt their removal while it heard their final appeals.

The government dismissed the appeals as delaying tactics.

They are now set to be flown out of Britain to be incarcerated in ADX Florence, the “supermax” jail in the United States.

Lawyers for Abu Hamza, who has been indicted in the United States on charges including setting up an Al-Qaeda-style training camp for militants in the state of Oregon, argued that he should not be extradited because he needs a brain scan.

They told the court he suffers from sleep deprivation and memory loss which make him unfit to plead, as well as infections in the stumps of his two amputated arms.

Hamza – who wears a hook where his right hand once was – has also been charged with criminal conduct related to the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998 and with advocating violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2001.

He rose to prominence in the 1990s when he gave fiery sermons at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, but has been in prison in Britain for eight years after being convicted of inciting hatred.

Ahmad and Ahsan, both British nationals, are accused of operating websites supporting Chechen and Afghan insurgents.

“The applications by all five claimants must be dismissed. It follows that their extradition to the United States of America may proceed immediately” – Judge John Thomas.

Fawwaz and Bary have been in prison without trial since 1999, while Ahmad has been behind bars since 2004 and Ahsan since 2006.

Lawyers for Fawwaz, a 50-year-old Saudi national who was indicted by the United States for alleged involvement in the bombing of two US embassies in east Africa in 1998 which killed hundreds, said he had disassociated himself from Osama bin Laden.

Bary, a 52-year-old Egyptian national who faces the same allegations as Fawwaz, argued he should not be extradited because the European court had incorrect information on the amount of time he would spend in isolation at the US jail.

Meanwhile lawyers for computer experts Ahmad, 38, and Ahsan, 32, argued that British authorities were wrong not to allow a private prosecution that would have meant them going on trial in Britain and prevented their extradition.

Ahmad’s father Ashfaq Ahmad, who has run a campaign to prevent his extradition, said outside the court that the decision was “a shameful chapter in the history of Britain”.

“The Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, even the court have all colluded to implement a pre-determined decision that was made in Washington,” he claimed.

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