US & Canada

Haroon Aswat given 20 years in prison for terror crimes

Haroon Aswat Image copyright Reuters

A British man who admitted plotting to set up an extremist training camp in the US has been jailed for 20 years.

Haroon Aswat, 41, from Batley, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in New York in March.

He admitted conspiring with radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to set up a camp 15 years ago in Oregon.

District judge Katherine Forrest said Aswat, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, would be returned to the UK on completion of his sentence.

Aswat had also pleaded guilty to one count of "providing material support to al-Qaeda".

'Persistent efforts'

The court heard he spent six weeks in Seattle and Oregon in 2000 as part of a plot to set up a training camp for al-Qaeda recruits, who wanted to fight in Afghanistan.

He had been under orders from Abu Hamza, who was sentenced to life in prison in January for a series of terrorism offences.

Speaking after the sentencing, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said: "Aswat was arrested more than 10 years ago, and his sentence is the result of the tireless and persistent efforts of law enforcement to hold accountable all those who wish to harm the United States, whether at home or abroad, no matter how long it takes."

Aswat was arrested by UK authorities in 2005 at RAF Northolt, and three years later he was transferred from prison to Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.

He fought extradition for several years, with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in September 2013 that he could not be extradited as his mental health could deteriorate.

However, in September 2014 two High Court judges said they were satisfied he would receive satisfactory care in the US.

He lost his final legal battle when in January 2015, when the European Court of Human Rights dismissed a case he brought against the UK government arguing his extradition rested on inadequate assurances from US officials about his treatment.

Aswat's defence lawyer Peter Quijano told reporters he would be requesting his client's transfer to the UK to complete his sentence, and he hoped this would be approved by the Department of Justice.

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