European Court approves Abu Hamza extradition

Posted on: 10 April 2012 by Gareth Hargreaves

The European court of Human Rights today ruled against Abu Hamza, the radical Islamist cleric, and five other men suspected of formenting terrorist activity.

Abu Hamza appeal failsThe Radical Islamist cleric Abu Hamza lost his appeal at the Europen Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and now faces extradition and the prospect of a US 'Supermax' prison.

Writing on the Abu Hamza appeal in his blog on Olderiswiser, Tony Page, claims "It would have saved a lot of stress on the accused and their families; saved a lot of money paying to remand them and would have saved face in the UK as being seen as too concerned with the process of law and not enough with getting the accused to trial. This is a victory for good sense but it’s just a shame that Strasbourg had to win it for us."

Martin Bentham of the Evening Standard questions why Hamza wasn't ejected earlier:

"So after eight years of delay, Abu Hamza could finally be departing the UK after today’s welcome ruling by judges in Strasbourg sanctioning his extradition to the US.

Good news that might be, but this country’s ability to rid ourselves of dangerous terror suspects remains alarmingly poor. This, of course, is usually put down to the European Convention on Human Rights and its provisions on family life, the prevention of torture and fair justice."

Predictably the tabloids wade in with hook-handed demonisations of the man rather than questioning what the case represents for British justice

"A nine-year fight to ship Hamza, 53, to the US came to a head this morning when the fanatical hook-handed Muslim cleric and four other terrorist suspects learned they have lost their legal battle to stay in Britain."

The Independent quotes Vince Cable as saying, "This decision will do a great deal to restore the reputation of the court but we must be cautious in drawing unjustified conclusions," he said.

"The detail and reasoning of the judgment has to be carefully examined but 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."

The Guardian's Richard Norton-Taylor asks what a ruling against what have meant for the UK/US extradition treaty 

"The coalition has shown that it is as craven as its predecessor on matters concerning Britain's closest ally. How would Washington have responded had Strasbourg blocked the extradition of the five men on the grounds their human rights would be violated? The British government could not bear to think, judging by its willingness to appease the US on matters relating to security and intelligence. Nowhere has this been made so clearly than in its plan to prevent information held by MI5, MI6, and GCHQ from ever being disclosed in court."

His is the only piece which considers what the human cost of the extradition will be, given that other UK citizens have been held, allegedly tortured and ultimately released without charge from the Guatanamo prison facility, Cuba:

"Evidence relating to the brutal treatment by the CIA of British citizens and residents rendered to Guantánamo Bay, emerged in court thanks to some conscientious British judges. Ministers, MI5, and MI6 protest that torture is abhorrent and they would have nothing to do with it. Yet when evidence threatened to be disclosed in court revealing that the US told MI5 and MI6 that Binyam Mohamed and other British citizens and residents secretly rendered to Guantánamo Bay had been brutally treated, ministers were the first to insist the evidence must be withheld.

If the evidence was disclosed, they warned, the US, and the CIA in particular, would stop sharing intelligence with Britain.

The British judges were not impressed. "The treatment to which Mr Mohamed was subjected could never properly be described in a democracy as 'a secret' or an 'intelligence secret' or 'a summary of classified intelligence'," they said. They added: "It was impossible to believe that President Obama would take action against the United Kingdom," if the summary of CIA material was disclosed. Publication was "necessary to uphold the rule of law and democratic accountability", the judges continued."

There is undoubtedly much complexity to this case, but not having the moral courage to try these men in the UK reflects poorly on Theresa May, the government and the British legal system.

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Abu Hamza Extradition appeal

The radical islamist cleric Abu Hamza has lost his appeal against extradition in a ruling passed by the European Court of Human Rights.

  1. 50% Only after all legal process is followed
  2. 27% Yes, send him on the first available flight
  3. 22% No, case should been heard in a British court
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