US & Canada

Abu Hamza terror trial begins with jury selection in US

Abu Hamza al-Masri addressing followers during Friday prayer in the street next to Finsbury Park mosque in 2004
Abu Hamza was extradited to the US after an eight-year legal battle

Jury selection has begun in US federal court in New York in the trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical cleric extradited from the UK in 2012.

The Egyptian-born preacher denies 11 terrorism charges including providing support to al-Qaeda and trying to set up an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon.

He was extradited from a UK prison, having been jailed for seven years for inciting murder and race hate.

It was specified that he must be tried in a civilian court in the US.

This stipulation was made by British and European court rulings, after a legal battle which began when the US requested Abu Hamza's extradition in 2004.

Bin Laden recordings

Abu Hamza sat in court in New York on Monday as District Judge Katherine Forrest explained the 11 charges against him to potential jurors.

Jury selection is expected to take one day and opening statements are scheduled to begin on Thursday after a two-day court recess.

In February Abu Hamza wrote to the judge saying he planned to testify in his defence and address the 9/11 attacks - even though his lawyers have advised against it.

The charges he faces include conspiring in a 1998 kidnapping of tourists in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of three Britons and an Australian.

As part of their case, prosecutors plan to play jurors a series of recordings of Abu Hamza praising Osama Bin Laden and castigating Jews, Christians and homosexuals.

His lawyers have argued the recordings are irrelevant to the charges against him.

Abu Hamza, who has no hands and one eye, rose to notoriety in the UK for preaching violent messages at Finsbury Park mosque in London after 9/11.

In fighting against the extradition, his lawyers claimed some of the evidence that could be used against him in the US was obtained using torture.

They also claimed he could face inhumane treatment, but courts eventually found that his human rights would not be violated.

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