Abu Hamza al-Masri, an Islamic cleric jailed for inciting murder and racial hatred, will be extradited from Britain to the U.S. at the earliest opportunity after a European court said his human rights weren’t at risk.
“We will work to ensure that the individuals are handed over to the U.S. authorities as quickly as possible,” the British Home Office in London said in an e-mailed statement last night.
The Grand Chamber panel at the European Court of Human Rights rejected appeals by Abu Hamza and four other alleged terrorists to fight the court’s April decision to allow extradition, saying in a statement yesterday “there would be no violation of the applicants’ rights” under the European Convention if they were to be sent to stand trial in the U.S.
The U.S. seeks to prosecute Abu Hamza on charges he supported the Taliban with money and troops, set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, in 2000 and aided a kidnapping plot that left four hostages dead in Yemen in 1998.
The potential for a life sentence and solitary confinement in the so-called supermax prison is justified in cases where inmates are a “significant security risk,” the Strasbourg, France-based court ruled in April. The U.S. facility also has amenities that go beyond what’s provided in most prisons in Europe, it said.
Abu Hamza, the former head of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, was sentenced by a U.K. court in 2006 to seven years in prison for encouraging his followers to kill Jews and other non-Muslims in sermons between 1997 and 2000. An appeals court rejected his claims the jury was swayed by the media’s demonization of the cleric and unrelated acts of terrorism, such as the 2005 bombings on London’s public transport system.
Abu Hamza, who was born in Egypt and granted British citizenship in 1986, is known for the hook-shaped prosthetic he wears in place of his hand. He argued in the U.K. case that he preaches religious tenets set forth in the Koran and was only prosecuted to avoid political embarrassment after the U.S. government filed terrorism charges against him.
A sixth applicant’s appeal is pending, as the court is still awaiting additional information from the parties, according to the rights court.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at firstname.lastname@example.org