The High Court of England and Wales on Friday approved the extradition [judgment, PDF] of five terror suspects to the US. The court's decision comes a week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] gave its final approval of the extradition, which it had initially approved [JURIST reportS] in April. Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and four other suspects appealed [JURIST report] that ruling in July, but the ECHR declined to revisit their arguments. In its decision, the court criticized the extensive time spent litigating the extradition [BBC report]. In addition to al-Masri, British citizens Syed Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad [advocacy website; BBC profile] and Saudi-born Khaled Al-Fawwaz are now slated to be extradited. All five men are wanted in the US on terrorism charges and will face imprisonment without parole at ADX Florence [BOP backgrounder], a super-maximum security prison in Colorado. It has not been announced when the group will be extradited nor when they will be tried in the US.
The ECHR's decision in April marked a change in position for the court from its position two years ago, when it stayed the extradition [JURIST report] of four of the terrorism suspects to the US, holding that potential punishment could violate European Convention on Human Rights [text] provisions on the prohibition of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment. The UK High Court approved the extradition [JURIST report] of Aswat and Ahmad to the US in 2006. Aswat is wanted in the US on suspicion of setting up a terrorist training camp and Ahmad is wanted for conspiring to kill Americans and running a website used to fund terrorists and recruit al Qaeda members. The extraditions were approved only after the US offered assurances that it would not seek the death penalty, try the suspects before military tribunals or declare them enemy combatants. A British court approved the extradition [JURIST report] of al-Masri in 2007. Hamza, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence in the UK [JURIST report] for urging his followers to kill Jews and other non-Muslims, faces US charges of attempting to establish terrorist training camps in Oregon, conspiring to take hostages in Yemen, and helping terror training in Afghanistan.