Abu Hamza US extradition backed by European Court

Abu Hamza (left) with a masked bodyguard Abu Hamza: Indicted on charges of alleged terrorism in the US

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The European Court of Human Rights has backed the extradition of Abu Hamza and four other terror suspects from the UK to the US.

The Strasbourg court held there would be no violation of human rights for those facing life and solitary confinement in a "supermax" prison.

Judges said they would consider further the case of another suspect because of mental health issues.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "very pleased" with the news.

"It's quite right that we have a proper legal process, although sometimes you can be frustrated by how long things take," he added.

The court's decision is one of its most important since 9/11 because it approves of human rights in US maximum security prisons, making it easier for the UK to send suspects to its closest ally.

There could still hypothetically be an appeal against the court's ruling in its final Grand Chamber - but in practice, very few cases are re-examined in that final forum.

The men have three months to try to persuade the Grand Chamber to reopen the entire case and examine it. If the men fail to launch an appeal, they will be extradited to the United States.

The family of one of the men, Babar Ahmad, who has been held for a record of nearly eight years without trial, said he would fight on against extradition.

Last week, he appealed in a BBC interview to be charged and tried in the UK because his alleged crimes were committed here.

Babar Ahmad: Unconvicted and held for almost eight years without trial - a British record

Home Secretary Theresa May welcomed the ruling, and said she would work to ensure that the suspects were handed over to the US authorities "as quickly as possible".

The US Justice Department also said it was "pleased" about the decision on the five.

"We look forward to the court's decision becoming final and to the extradition of these defendants to stand trial in the United States," it said in a statement.

In the case of the sixth suspect, Haroon Aswat, it said officials would "consult" with the UK's Home Office about the additional submission requested.

The European Court said there would be no breach of human rights if the men were to be held in solitary confinement at ADX Florence, a Federal Supermax jail in Colorado, used for people convicted of terrorism offences.

The Florence 'Supermax' jail

ADX Supermax Florence, Colorado, is also known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies.

It is reportedly equipped with 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors, motion detectors, pressure pads and gun towers.

Solitary confinement is a regular way of life in supermax regimes, with prisoners locked up for at least 23 hours each day.

Supporters say supermaxes are the most appropriate way to house the worst of the worst in the prison population.

Critics say they are an affront to human rights and tantamount to torture.

Abu Hamza is unlikely to be held at that jail because of his disabilities. The court also held that the life sentences each man faces would not breach human rights.

But in Mr Aswat's case, judges said they could not yet give the go-ahead to extradition because they needed to see more submissions on his schizophrenia and how that would be treated were he sent to the US.

The court said that the range of activities and services at ADX Florence was better than that at many European prisons.

It said: "Having fully considered all the evidence from both parties, including specifically prepared statements by officials at ADX Florence as well as letters provided by the US Department of Justice, the court held that conditions at ADX would not amount to ill-treatment.

"As concerned ADX's restrictive conditions and lack of human contact, the court found that, if the applicants were convicted as charged, the US authorities would be justified in considering them a significant security risk and in imposing strict limitations on their ability to communicate with the outside world.

Home Secretary Theresa May: "It was not right to prosecute in the UK"

"The court finds that there are adequate opportunities for interaction between inmates. While inmates are in their cells talking to other inmates is possible, admittedly only through the ventilation system.

"Save for cases involving the death penalty, it has even more rarely found that there would be a violation of Article 3 (that no-one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) if an applicant were to be removed to a state which had a long history of respect of democracy, human rights and the rule of law."

Abu Hamza is charged with offences relating to hostage taking in Yemen and an alleged plot to set-up a terrorism training camp in the United States. Haroon Aswat is also accused in connection to the training camp.

Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan are accused of supporting terrorism through a website operated in London.

The final two men, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz, allegedly played a part in organising the 1998 US Embassy bombings in East Africa.

The law firm representing Babar Ahmad and others in the case - Birnberg Peirce and Partners - said the court had made its decision "in large part on the basis of disputed statistics provided by the UK government to which the applicants were not permitted to respond".

It also stressed that the judgement did not address the "burning issue" of "why in all logic, fairness, and practical common sense are not British citizens (whose UK actions are forming the basis of prosecution in the US, and where all of the evidence on which they are being tried was accumulated in its entirety in the UK by UK police and shipped lock stock and barrel to US prosecutors), being tried in their own country?"

In an unrelated case earlier this year, the European Court blocked the deportation from the UK of a different radical cleric, Abu Qatada, to Jordan, saying he faced an unfair trial.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper welcomed the ruling against Abu Hamza, but added: "The government now needs to focus on dealing with Abu Qatada, who could have less than a month left of his strict bail conditions, and where the government's own decision to water down counter-terror powers could mean he is allowed to move around London."

The men facing extradition

Name Background Court decision
Abu Hamza

Abu Hamza

Wanted in the US on 11 charges related to taking 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998, promoting violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2001 and conspiring to set up a jihad training camp in Oregon in the US

Can be extradited

Haroon Aswat

Accused of conspiring with Abu Hamza to establish a jihad training camp in Oregon

Case adjourned

Babar Ahmad

Babar Ahmad

Accused of various offences, including providing support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill, maim or injure people and damage property in a foreign country

Can be extradited

Talha Ahsan

Mr Ahsan is Babar Ahmad's co-accused. He faces similar allegations

Can be extradited

Adel Abdul Bary

Adel Abdul Bary

Accused of being a key aide to Osama Bin Laden. Wanted on charges of promoting violent jihad against the West and playing a role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, in which more than 200 people were killed and thousands injured

Can be extradited

Khaled al-Fawwaz

Adel Abdul Bary's co-accused and charged with more than 269 counts of murder

Can be extradited

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  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Well, at long last it appears commonsense has prevailed. Why is it the French appear to do what they damn well like in these matters but we take the long and labourious line by going to the ECHR?!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    You give up your own human rights as soon as you disrespect the rights of others. Abu you’re a coward now face your punishment like a man.
    Also honest British people should not be giving free handouts to your family. I am sorry mate you have lost your 'LA Privileges' Good riddens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    It does strike me as interesting that there's a lot less fury about the US/UK extradition treaty when the person being extradited is a hook-handed pantomime villan.

  • Comment number 151.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    hopefully this is the 1st of many correct decisions concerning terrorists - they dont respect us - lets not respect them

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    At last a ruling in favour of the British people. And five in one day. Sadly the sixth suspect is mentally ill. How much more sick can he be than the other five?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    About time the European judges gave a decision that was correct, no more rolling over for the loony left "do gooders" they'd have had him free to roam the streets of the UK.
    Perhaps if USA & other countries could say on extradition docs and have it enshrined in their respective laws that there would be no "inhumane" treatment then we could get rid of more of his like sooner and at a quicker rate!

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    34. Do you know something the rest of don't seem so as to be able to say this is a 'racist' decision. Do the European judges use racist terminology in their judgement? Given that the 7/7 murderers were pretty scrupulous in killing people irrespective of race this is surely a decision which potentially saves lives and upholds the liberties of people of all races?

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    You are making an ill informed statement, Tappin "if he is guilty" can rot with the rest of them missile batteries to Iran.

    MacKinnon is a special case and has outlasted many other extradition attempts & has faded away into the background. O'Dwyer's is a case to watch. Assange is just an Idiot

    Today is about British hating terrorist inciting scum getting their just rewards getting punted

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Chances are these guys are in the employ of the CIA to further the globalist agenda. In this case, sending them to USA could be considered kind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    After how many years and how many millions?


  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Apart from the immediate consequence of sending Abu Hamza to the US, I hope this decision signals, loud and clear, to those who would harm us that they no longer have recourse to the very protections and rights that they are so fervently trying to destroy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    See ya
    Wouldn't wanna be ya

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    So who will be paying the legal costs?

    At the very least, the Courts should order that these people are stripped of everything but a set of clothes. Any money they have, any assets they own, all should go towards paying for this circus.

    They should also be permanently banned from the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Anyone who agrees with this decision doesn't understand the meaning of 'life in solitary confinement'.

    I'm not against keeping them in top-notch security prisons to stop any risk of escape. But solitary confinement? Is that really necessary or conducive? No, it's just another form of torture and this decision is horrendous for that reason.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Good, now get rid of the rest of them. Cameron it's your duty and what you have been elected for to get rid of these people there is no room for terrorists or radical preachers in our society. Time we stopped being a slave to the ECHR if France can do it so can we.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    About time too. Anyone remember the 52 people who died during the 7/7 bombings... no sorry.... killings. We don't want terrorists in this country and those who say this is "Racist" need to get a life. Where is the mention of racism. This is about terrorist scumbags. Good riddens I say and well done the Judges who made the decision at last.

  • Comment number 137.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    yesssssssssssss at last get rid of the scum that live of our backs and preach hate and welcome the death of our brave soldiers what human rights do they give them the best news this year

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Of course Abu Hamza is the one who is paraded in front of the media after this ruling. Don't forget that this ruling applies to any Brit the US wants to extradite in future. The UK govt will not step into protect you.


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