David Cameron has hailed a court ruling to allow the extradition of five alleged terrorists including radical cleric Abu Hamza, as relatives of one of the men vowed to fight the decision “to the end”.
The Prime Minister said he was “very pleased” that human rights judges had approved the suspects’ transfer to the US, where authorities want to try them on multiple terrorism charges.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg rejected the men’s claims that their detention in the US would expose them to “torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
Mr Cameron said: “I am very pleased with the news. It is quite right that we have proper legal processes, although sometimes one can get frustrated with how long they take.”
The decision came only three months after the ECHR ruled against the Government in blocking the extradition of another terrorist suspect, Abu Qatada, to Jordan.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said yesterday’s ruling would “do a great deal to restore the reputation of the court”, adding: “Perhaps now we can have a rational debate about the role and significance of the European Convention and its fundamental importance to a democratic society like our own.”
As well as Hamza, who is serving a seven-year prison term in the UK after being found guilty in 2006 of 11 charges under the Terrorism Act, the judges ruled that fellow suspects Babar Ahmed, Seyla Tahla Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled Al-Fawwaz could be extradited.
The case of a sixth man, Haroon Rashid Aswat, was adjourned until a further hearing.
Babar Ahmad’s sister, former GP and mother-of-four Amna Ahmad, 33, vowed to fight his extradition “to the end”.
He faces charges in the US relating to alleged offences of providing support to terrorists and conspiring to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country.
Ms Ahmad said: “He is obviously very, very disappointed with the ruling but it’s added more fuel for us to pursue the British Government to ask what’s gone wrong with this case because we believe there has been a serious abuse of process.” She added: “We’re not asking for mercy. We’re just asking for basic rights that apply to paedophiles and rapists.
“They’re afforded the chance to have a fair trial in the United Kingdom in front of a jury of their peers of offences that appear to have been committed on their home ground. Babar’s not been awarded that opportunity.”
Ahmad’s father, Ashfaq, said: “Babar is a British citizen accused of a crime said to have been committed in the UK and all the evidence against him was gathered in this country.
“Nevertheless, British justice appears to have been subcontracted to the US. This should be immediately rectified by putting Babar on trial in the UK and ordering a full public inquiry into the matter.”
In a television interview screened last week, Ahmad described being imprisoned without trial for almost eight years as “the most unimaginable type of psychological torture”.
He admitted he had previously fought “battles” in Bosnia but said he believed “terrorism to be wrong”.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Proper legal processes are important, but it remains a serious concern that this has taken so long, and it is important that remaining steps should be swiftly resolved.”
She added that the Government should now focus on dealing with Qatada, who is living in London.
Home Secretary Theresa May went to Jordan last month, seeking formal assurances that Qatada would not be tried using evidence which could have been obtained by torture.