Two High Court judges will hear submissions from the home secretary on Tuesday, arguing that injunctions preventing the extradition to the US of Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad and Khaled al-Fawwaz should be lifted. A judge is also considering a request for a judicial review from a fourth suspect, Adel Abdul Bary.
Last week the European Court of Human Rights gave its final approval for the men’s extradition, after having initially ruled in April this year that they could be sent to the US. The case of a fifth man, Haroon Aswat, is under review. There are a total of six suspects facing extradition.
ABU HAMZA AND HAROON RASHID ASWAT
Cleric Abu Hamza is the most well-known of all the men facing extradition to the US. He has already been convicted of soliciting to murder and stirring up racial hatred and jailed in the UK for seven years. He remains in prison.
The US indictment against Abu Hamza has 11 allegations. He is accused of a conspiracy to take hostages and hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998, in an incident that led to the death of four people.
He is further accused of planning to establish a training camp in Bly, Oregon, a remote part of north-west United States. There are further allegations that he plotted to provide material support to terrorists in Afghanistan and that he provided goods and services to the Taliban.
Abu Hamza was first suspect arrested at the request of the US in May 2004 – but the extradition was halted when the UK decided to try him on the allegations relating to his sermons. He was convicted in 2006.
In 2008, his appeal against extradition went to the European Court. In April 2012 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that his extradition was lawful, and his appeal against that ruling was rejected in September.
Abu Hamza had already been granted an interim injunction preventing his removal pending Tuesday’s hearing.
Haroon Aswat, Abu Hamza’s co-accused, was allegedly involved in the plot to establish a training camp in Oregon. He was arrested in August 2005 and his case went to Europe in the summer of 2007.
The men appealed their extraditions on similar human rights grounds to Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan. The European Court of Human Rights has “adjourned its examination” of Haroon Aswat’s claim because it requires further details about his mental health problems.
BABAR AHMAD AND SYED TALHA AHSAN
Babar Ahmad is a 37-year-old man from Tooting in south London. He was first arrested in December 2003, in a major Scotland Yard counter-terrorism operation.
Days later, he was released without charge – accusing the arrest team of assault.
The Metropolitan Police later admitted that he was severely assaulted during that arrest and paid him £60,000 compensation. Four officers involved in that allegation were later acquitted.
In August 2004, he was arrested again, pending extradition. This time he was wanted by the US. He has been in prison ever since, setting what appears to be a record for the longest time that a British national has been detained without trial in modern times.
The US authorities accused Mr Ahmad of running an important pro-jihad website called Azzam.com. During the 1990s and early 2000s the English-language website played a key role in encouraging young Muslims in the West to support Mujahideen causes in Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan.
The US accuses him of providing material support to terrorists, money laundering through the website and plotting with US nationals. He is accused of receiving classified US naval plans. The first UK judge who examined the case said it was a “difficult and troubling case” because the alleged crimes all took place on websites allegedly run in London, not the US.
But the US says the websites were technically hosted by a company based in the US state of Connecticut, giving them jurisdiction.
The Crown Prosecution Service separately concluded that Babar Ahmad could not be prosecuted. Mr Ahmad has had a long-standing campaign behind him, involving Muslims across the UK who say that he has been unfairly treated. He has always denied any links to al-Qaeda.
Syed Talha Ahsan is Babar Ahmad’s co-accused. Born in 1979, he was arrested in September 2006 on a US extradition warrant. He faces the same allegations as Babar Ahmad, including providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people by receiving classified US naval plans.
In both cases, lawyers for the men have argued that they have been denied justice in the UK because there was an alleged failure by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to properly consider whether they could be tried in London.
Both men argue that if they were convicted, they would be held at a special “supermax” prison in the United States called ADX Florence. They say that conditions there, including solitary confinement, amount to torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment. The European Court has been considering whether the US Constitution provides human rights safeguards which are as good as those in Europe.
ADEL ABDUL BARY AND KHALED AL-FAWWAZ
Saudi Arabian-born Khaled al-Fawwaz and Egyptian Adel Abdul Bary are accused of being key aides to Osama bin Laden in London
They are accused of promoting violent jihad against the West and the massive indictment accuses them of playing a role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, in which more than 200 people were killed and thousands injured.
Both men were arrested the same year and have been held ever since.
Again, the appeals against extradition related to the conditions they would face in the United States.
The men allege that they could be taken to Guantanamo Bay or even rendered to another country. They also say they cannot get a fair trial because they have already been designated as international terrorists by the US administration.
Khaled al-Fawwaz had also been granted an interim injunction preventing his removal, prior to the forthcoming hearing.
Adel Abdul Bary’s application to stop his extradition is being considered by a single judge.