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
    +1

    Comment number 354.

    This clearly points out to people that Human Rights do not exist; they only exist when suited. I'm still waiting for Bush and Blair to put on trial in the ECHR and I wonder what the result would be then? Clearly this case underlines the corruption and the influence of governments over the judicial system; it was not an independent judicial decision, but a political one.

  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 353.

    A freedom, or in this case a right. Lost by one is lost by all.

    Watch are alledged hackers and battery sellers fill the supermax.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 352.

    211.Beatpoverty
    24 Minutes ago
    Failure to protect a vulnerable ethnic minority like hamza is a failure to human rights in itself.

    Are you serious???

  • rate this
    +303

    Comment number 351.

    At last, now let`s just deport them at the earliest opportunity, preferably today. I note that they have 3 months in which to try and get the decision reviewed by the grand chamber. I believe that we should ignore this and just ship them off to America to stand trial. The French didn`t mess around like this, they just deported their terrorists, no appeal, nothing. Why are we so soft?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 350.

    I wonder if, on Appeal, the Grand Chamber of Europe might reverse this decision and the men will remain in the UK? I remind anyone reading this that we exist under a "Legal System" and NOT a "Justice System". The men have 3 months just to lodge their Appeal. Then it will take some time to come before the Grand Chamber. Naturally, this will be paid for via taxpayer funded Legal Aid.

  • rate this
    -77

    Comment number 349.

    In the American 'justice' system, 98% of cases end in coerced guilty pleas. This is not justice, this is torture. We shouldn't be extraditing ANYONE to such a place, no matter how odious the allegations, and CERTAINLY not without evidence. In this country, a person is innocent until proven guilty. The ECHR has just defecated all over the most fundamental cornerstone of British justice.

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 348.

    As a Euro sceptic, I am slowly warming to Europe now, the Brighton conference is another aim by Europe that I also think is a good move. Europe can really get its act together, once we break into the new shoes. A positive step for who we are as Europeans.

  • Comment number 347.

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

  • rate this
    -92

    Comment number 346.

    You do understand that Babar Ahmad hasn't even been tried yet. He could well be not guilty. However, it looks like it is over for him now, he's being fed to the US slave machine (prisons). He's basically a dead man now.

    And why wasn't he tried in England? Why is england just another US zombie country?

    And permanent isolation is a form of torture. You people sicken me.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 345.

    Thank god... some sense at last from this country's justice system.

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 344.

    Enjoy your stay in the US and don't hurry back. You can now spend the next 30 or 40 years thinking about how much you hate the UK!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 343.

    An interesting parallel with another landmark UK ruling from the Human RIghts Court: the US, unlike the UK, does NOT have a blanket ban on prisoner voting - each state decides, and many still allow those who have only committed minor offences to vote. As non-US citizens, these terror suspects (if convicted) wouldn't be able to vote anyway - but it's a sign of how far behind the curve the UK is...

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 342.

    Scum like that should not be shown any mercy. I would hope they will now widen the net and dispose of them in one way or another whether it be to the USA or whatever. Personally i'd like to see them removed from society and incarcerated for the rest of their lives, in solitary and fed on bread and water, or worse!
    It's all very well having freedom of speech but tell that to victims' families!

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 341.

    It's good that such a man is at last getting what he deserves, and not before time, but disgraceful that the UK did not lock him up ourselves for his terror mongering ways. It worries me that the USA has more clout with the courts than other countries, but at least he will get the sentence he and others like him deserve over there, unlike the 'soft' jail sentences here.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 340.

    164. Calum McKay: If you don't know what he has done....how can you make such an accusation?
    I am no admirer of the Scottish Trio you mention, however your comment lacks evidence and credibility.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 339.

    It makes me proud that not only have we won a significant victory today over terrorists, but that weve managed to keep a morally clean slate while we do it.

    I for one hope that the grand chamber see him for what he clearly is and refuse to reopen the case.

  • Comment number 338.

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

  • Comment number 337.

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

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 336.

    Get a job on a right wing [or even 'liberal' ] newspaper and you can do as much hate preaching, stirring and war mongering as you like. As long as you're not a Muslim of course.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 335.

    The prime purpose of the European court seems to be to make vast sums for the lawyers and to ensure that hateful individuals are not punished by the societies they detest. This decision is a breath of fresh air but even now the lawyers will be calculating how much legal aid they can claim by appealing to the higher chamber, even it that appeal cannot progress.

 

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