European court approves UK terror extraditions to US | News | DW | 10.04.2012
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European court approves UK terror extraditions to US

The European Court of Human Rights has approved a long-standing request from the British government to extradite five terror suspects to the US. Radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri is among the detainees.

Europe's human rights court in Strasbourg on Tuesday approved the extradition of five terror suspects from the UK to the US. The case concerned Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Mustafa Kamal Mustafa, more commonly known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, and five others.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) approved the extradition of five of the suspects, but adjourned the case of Haroon Rashid Aswat, citing three queries pertaining to his mental health after his recent transfer from a prison to a mental hospital. The ECHR said it would "give its judement in Mr. Aswat's case as soon as practically possible."

The suspects had lodged a complaint with the ECHR, saying that their extradition would violate their human rights - specifically because of the likelihood maximum security imprisonment and solitary confinement.

The ECHR said in its statement that the more harsh treatment the prisoners might receive in the US was not unreasonable, saying that the defendants, "if convicted as charged," could be considered "a significant security risk." The court also asked, however, that the extradition be delayed to allow time for a possible appeal. The terror suspects have three months to try to convince the Grand Chamber to reopen their case.

"I welcome the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to allow the extradition of Abu Hamza and other terror suspects," Home Secretary Theresa May said in a statement. "We will work to ensure that the suspects are handed over the US authorities as quickly as possible."

Abu Hamza, who would probably avoid maximum security detention in the US because of physical disabilities, is charged with offenses relating to a 1998 hostage-taking in Yemen and an alleged plot to set up a terrorist training camp in the US.

One of the suspects, Babar Ahmad, has been detained without trial or conviction for nearly eight years so far, a modern-day British record. He is accused of supporting terrorism by running a pro-jihad English-language website.

msh/ng (AP, Reuters)