Speedy extradition for terror suspects after rights ruling

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Hate preacher Abu Hamza and four other terror suspects will be handed over to US authorities “as quickly as possible”, Home Secretary Theresa May has pledged after judges ruled they could be extradited for trial.

The European Court of Human Rights decided the five men could face justice in the US, where they were indicted on a range of terrorism charges between 1999 and 2006.

The ruling follows a long legal battle, in which the suspects unsuccessfully claimed the prospect of solitary confinement in a “supermax” high-security jail and sentences of life imprisonment without parole would breach their human rights.

The decision concerns Hamza, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence in Britain, and Babar Ahmad, a 36-year-old computer expert and alleged terrorism fundraiser who has been held in a UK prison without trial for nearly eight years. Three others – Seyla Talha Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled Al-Fawwaz – can also be extradited, while the case of a sixth man, Haroon Rashid Aswat, was adjourned yesterday until a further hearing.

Hamza faces charges in the US related to the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998, advocating violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2001 and conspiring to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, between June 2000 and December 2001.

Aswat was indicted as Hamza’s “co-conspirator”, while Bary and Al-Fawwaz were indicted – along with Osama bin Laden and 20 others – for their alleged involvement in, or support for, the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Al-Fawwaz faces more than 269 counts of murder.

Welcoming the decision, Mrs May said the Government would “work to ensure that the suspects are handed over to the US authorities as quickly as possible”.

However, the human rights judges warned the UK not to extradite any of the men until a three-month deadline for a final appeal has expired.