Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

ECHR bans Hamza 'ally' extradition

Haroon Aswat allegedly conspired with Abu Hamza, pictured, to set up terror training camps in the US
Haroon Aswat allegedly conspired with Abu Hamza, pictured, to set up terror training camps in the US

A suspected ally of hook-handed hate preacher Abu Hamza should not be extradited from Britain to the United States as to do so would breach his human rights, European judges ruled.

Haroon Aswat, who is currently being held at Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital, is wanted by US prosecutors for allegedly plotting with Hamza to set up a terror training camp in Bly, Oregon.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that extraditing Aswat to the US would violate the paranoid schizophrenic's human right to be free from ill-treatment on account of the severity of his mental illness.

Hamza and four other terror suspects were extradited last year after the Strasbourg court rejected their appeal against the move.

Aswat, who was born in 1974, claims that if he is extradited and convicted in the US, he would be at risk of ill-treatment inside the so-called supermax prison ADX Florence, in Colorado.

In the ruling given by a chamber of seven judges, the court said: "In light of the medical evidence before it, the court found there was a real risk that Mr Aswat's extradition to the USA, a country to which he had no ties, and to a different, potentially more hostile prison environment, would result in a significant deterioration in his mental and physical health."

Despite receiving submissions from the US Department of Justice, the ECHR found it could not be "determined with certainty" in which prison or prisons Mr Aswat would be locked up if sent to the US.

The judges found that, if he was convicted, he could face the "highly restrictive regime" of ADX Florence, breaching Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits degrading or inhuman treatment.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the European Court of Human Rights found that extradition to America would breach Haroon Aswat's human rights.

"The judgment does not become final for three months and we will consider as a matter of urgency all the legal options which are available to us. This includes whether we request a referral of the case to the court's Grand Chamber."

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