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Homeland Security

European Court Gives Go Ahead for US Extradition

Selah Hennessy | London April 10, 2012

Britain can extradite jailed radical-Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other alleged terrorists to the United States, according to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

Abu Hamza, a preacher who is serving a seven-year sentence in Britain, is wanted in the United States on 11 charges, including inciting racial hatred and conspiring to set up a jihad training camp in the United States.

European Court official Claire Ovey spoke to journalists in Strasbourg.

"This is not a final judgment so we have to wait for three-months to see if it will go to the Grand Chamber or not," said Ovey. "If this judgment does become final then there will be no bar to Abu Hamza being extradited to the United States.”

The European Court had been considering the cases of six people who were indicted in the United States on terror charges.

The court delayed ruling on one of the six, who suffers from mental health issues, but said the other five men can be extradited to the United States.

The defendants had argued the conditions they might face at a high security prison in the United States could expose them to “torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," in breach of European human-rights laws. But the court ruled Tuesday the defendants would not face disproportionate sentences in the United States.

Members of Britain’s Cabinet welcomed the decision. Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “pleased with the news.”

Home Secretary Teresa May spoke to the BBC.

"I welcome this decision from the European Court," said Teresa. "This does obviously permit the extradition of Abu Hamza and a number of other terror suspects to the United States. Clearly the decision was important because it said the extradition of these terror suspects did not inhibit their human rights."

She said Britain will work with U.S. authorities to hand over the suspects as soon as possible.

But the verdict was not met with universal praise. Ashfaq Ahmad is the father of one of the defendants, Babar Ahmad, who has been held without trial for eight years in Britain.

"Babar is a British citizen accused of a crime said to have been committed in the UK (Britain) and all the evidence against him was gathered in this country. Nevertheless British justice appears to have been sub-contracted to the United States," Ahmed said.

He says his son should be put on trial in Britain.

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