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Abu Hamza due in US court following extradition

Published: October 6, 2012 | 8:20 am
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Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza is due to appear in court in New York to face terrorism charges.

He is one of five men who left the UK on two flights, hours after the High Court rejected their final appeals.

It has been confirmed Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan have landed in the US. They will appear before a judge in Connecticut in connection with the alleged running of a pro-jihad website.

The home secretary said the extradition process had been too “lengthy”.

On Friday, UK judges ruled the five men – Abu Hamza, Mr Ahmad, Mr Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz – did not show “new and compelling” reasons to stay in the UK.

The men were on two planes which left a military airbase in Suffolk.

‘Lengthy process’

Abu Hamza faces 11 charges in the US relating to hostage taking, conspiracy to establish a militant training camp and calling for holy war in Afghanistan.

His lawyers had argued he was not fit to be deported on health grounds.

He is set to go before a judge within 24 hours of landing, and will appear in an open hearing following his arrival at an airport in New York state.

Hamza is then expected to be held at the Metropolitan Correction Centre in New York in an area reserved for high-profile prisoners.

A pre-trial hearing is likely to take place within about three weeks. The actual trial, which should take place in a public courtroom, could take between one and three years.

Mr al-Fawwaz and Mr Bary are accused of being aides to Osama Bin Laden in London.

The High Court decision on Friday came after the European Court of Human Rights backed successive UK courts in ruling for extradition.

Judges Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Ousley said in their ruling that there was an “overwhelming public interest in the functioning of the extradition system” and that there was “no appeal from our decision”.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she was “pleased” the men were “finally being removed to face justice”.

She told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme she would be looking at lessons from the judiciary, other countries, and scrutinising the levels of appeal available in the UK to “make some changes” to the extradition process.

“It is right to look at the process. It is frustrating, I think everybody is frustrated at how long it has taken to extradite these particular individuals.”

But she also insisted the government had acted “as properly and quickly as we can at every stage… the point is there is a lengthy process”.

“I think we do need to make some changes.”

Connecticut’s Attorney David Fein confirmed the arrival of Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan in a press release.

He said the pair were indicted in 2006 with offences stemming from their involvement a website that allegedly provided material support to the Chechen Muhjahideen, the Taliban, and associated terrorist groups.

BBC

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