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Euro Court OKs US Extradition, 'Inhuman Treatment' for Alleged Terror Suspects

Muslim cleric Abu Hamza Masri, four others to be sent to US SuperMax prison

Common Dreams staff

Abu Hamza addresses Friday prayers near Finsbury Park mosque in north London in 2004. (AFP)

A European court has ruled that suspected terrorists held in Europe can be extradited to the US and put in 'super-maximum security' prisons. Muslim cleric Abu Hamza Masri, among four other defendants, had claimed that conditions at the ADX supermax prison in Florence, Colorado -- destination for suspected terrorists -- would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment.

The ruling sets precedent, as it is the first international court to uphold the American judicial system in terms of its treatment of terrorist suspects and human rights.

The detainees could be sent to the US within months, pending an unlikely appeal.

Writing for The Guardian, Richard Norton-Taylor states, "It should now be easier in the future for the UK to send suspects to the US without British or European judges getting in the way...The Strasbourg ruling should be a wake-up call, to put in place as a matter of urgency an open, fair, and speedy, system of justice in the UK, the rest of Europe, and the US."

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European court OKs extradition to U.S. of five terrorism suspects (LA Times):

The court said Abu Hamza Masri and four other terrorism suspects could be sent to face trial in the U.S. without fear that they would face “inhuman and degrading” conditions in a maximum-security prison if convicted. The men had argued that they could be subject to solitary confinement for the rest of their lives in a so-called “supermax” prison in Colorado where many terrorism convicts are serving time.

The case is considered an important one for U.S.-Europe relations, because a ruling against extradition would have been tantamount to a denunciation of the American judicial and corrections system and could have dealt a blow to anti-terrorism cooperation across the Atlantic. [...]

The European court, based in Strasbourg, France, rejected the men’s contention that their human rights would be violated if they were sent to the Administrative Maximum, or ADX, facility in Florence, Colo.

“If the applicants were convicted as charged, the U.S. authorities would be justified in considering them a significant security risk and in imposing strict limitations on their ability to communicate with the outside world,” the seven judges ruled.

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Court rejects claims that extraditing Abu Hamza to the US would breach his human rights (Independent):


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Home Secretary Theresa May welcomed today’s ruling saying the Government "will work to ensure that the suspects are handed over to the US authorities as quickly as possible".

On the basis of the American extradition warrants, the six men were arrested in the UK and held pending extradition, which they all separately contested. Their requests to appeal to the House of Lords and the Supreme Court were also rejected.

The European Court of Human Rights judges said that, having considered all evidence including "specifically prepared" statements by officials at ADX Florence as well as letters from the US Department of Justice, "the court held that conditions at ADX would not amount to ill-treatment". [...]

On the jail's "restrictive conditions and lack of human contact", the judges said: "The court found that, if the applicants were convicted as charged, the US authorities would be justified in considering them a significant security risk and in imposing strict limitations on their ability to communicate with the outside world.

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Court rules Britain can send Abu Hamza to US (Agence France-Presse):

[One defendent] Babar Ahmad, 37, has been detained pending extradition since 2004, reportedly the longest a Briton has been detained without trial in modern times.

His father Ashfaq Ahmad said the family was disappointed with the ruling and called for his son to be allowed to go on trial in Britain immediately.

"Babar is a British citizen accused of a crime said to have been committed in the UK, and all the evidence against him was gathered in this country," he told reporters in London.

"Nevertheless, British justice appears to have been subcontracted to the US. This should be immediately rectified by putting Babar on trial in the UK and ordering a full public inquiry."

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