Last Updated: Fri Oct 05, 2012 17:34 pm (KSA) 14:34 pm (GMT)

Radical Islamist cleric Abu Hamza loses appeal against U.S. extradition

A protester speaks into a microphone during a demonstration in support of Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri outside the High Court in London. (Reuters)
A protester speaks into a microphone during a demonstration in support of Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri outside the High Court in London. (Reuters)

Radical Islamist preacher Abu Hamza and four other men on Friday failed in bids to block their extradition from Britain to the United States to face terrorism charges, as the High Court rejected their requests.

Judge John Thomas said: “The applications by all five claimants must be dismissed. It follows that their extradition to the United States of America may proceed immediately,” according to AFP.

Two judges at the court in London rejected a plea by Hamza, an Egyptian-born 54-year-old former imam, to be allowed a stay of extradition in order for medical tests to be carried out to assess his fitness to face trial.

Fellow terror suspects Khaled al-Fawwaz, Syed Tahla Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Babar Ahmed were also denied an injunction.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in September that all five men could be extradited, but the High Court ordered the government to halt their removal while it heard their final appeals.

The government dismissed the appeals as delaying tactics.

Ahmed and Ahsan, both British nationals, are accused of operating websites supporting Chechen and Afghan insurgents.

Hamza -- who wears a hook where his right hand once was -- has been in prison for eight years after being convicted in Britain of inciting hatred.

Fawwaz and Bary have been in prison without trial since 1999, while Ahmed has been behind bars since 2004 and Ahsan since 2006.

Britain’s Home Office (interior ministry) said in a statement after the judgement: “We welcome the Court’s decision and are working to extradite these men as quickly as possible.”

A crowd of about 100 people protested outside the court, shouting “Free Abu Hamza” and holding banners reading “Stop extraditions” and “democracy = hypocrisy,” according to Reuters.

U.S. authorities allege in an 11-count indictment filed in April, 2004 that Abu Hamza, who the U.S. identifies as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, supported the Taliban with money and troops, and aided a kidnapping in Yemen in 1998 that left four hostages dead. Federal prosecutors in New York also allege that he attempted to set up a terrorist training camp from 1999 to 2000 in Bly, Oregon.

He was originally sentenced by a U.K. court in 2006 to seven years in prison for encouraging his followers to kill Jews and other non-Muslims in sermons between 1997 and 2000.

Abu Hamza has sought to block his extradition for years through a series of court cases that seemed to conclude last week with a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights refusing to consider claims by the cleric and four other men that U.S. prison conditions would be inhumane.

U.K. officials vowed to speed up the extradition after the ruling from the Strasbourg, France-based Human Rights court, but Abu Hamzas lawyers asked the High Court in London to delay the proceedings for medical tests. Lawyers argued that Abu Hamza’s health had deteriorated after years of incarceration in a U.K. high-security prison.

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