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Rediff.com  » News » Abu Hamza loses extradition fight

Abu Hamza loses extradition fight

June 20, 2008 18:49 IST

Jailed Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has lost his high court bid in the United Kingdom against extradition to the United States where he faces terror-related charges.

The Egyptian-born preacher is currently serving a seven-year jail term in the UK for inciting murder and race hate.

Abu Hamza, 50, from west London, is wanted by the US authorities on 11 charges, including sending money to Al Qaeda. He has 14 days to decide whether he will launch a final appeal to the House of Lords against the judges' decision.

Sir Igor Judge and Justice Sullivan ruled that the decision to extradite was 'unassailable'.

The US charges against him included allegations that he attempted to set up an Al Qaeda training camp in Oregon between 1998 and 2000, and that he sent funds and recruits to the Taliban.

The radical Muslim cleric also stands accused of involvement in a conspiracy to take 12 westerners hostage in Yemen in 1998.

It is alleged that Abu Hamza -- who is missing an eye and his hands -- gave advice to the hostage-takers and provided them with a satellite phone.

Four of the captives -- Britons Margaret Whitehouse, 52, a teacher from Hampshire; Ruth Williamson, 34, an NHS employee from Edinburgh; university lecturer Peter Rowe, 60, from Durham; and an Australian national, Andrew Thirsk -- were killed after Yemeni authorities tried to rescue them.

Abu Hamza is already serving a seven-year sentence. The US charges carry a potential jail sentence of 100 years. Hamza was convicted in February 2006 of 11 of the 15 charges he faced in the UK.

In addition to being jailed for soliciting murder, he was also found guilty of inciting racial hatred, possessing 'threatening, abusive or insulting recordings' and for having a document useful to terrorists.

He was arrested on an extradition warrant issued by the US government in May 2004 but the process was put on hold while he stood trial in Britain and attempted to appeal against his UK convictions.

City of Westminster Magistrates Court approved the extradition and in February 2008, the decision was ratified by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith.

Once tried in the US, Abu Hamza, will have to return to the UK to complete his jail term before being extradited if any sentence was handed down to him by an American court.

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