Islamist wins delay in UK extradition to United States

LONDON Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:58pm EDT

Muslim cleric, Abu Hamza al-Masri, is seen addressing the sixth annual rally for Islam in Trafalgar Square, London in this August 25, 2002 file photograph. REUTERS/Ian Waldie/Files

Muslim cleric, Abu Hamza al-Masri, is seen addressing the sixth annual rally for Islam in Trafalgar Square, London in this August 25, 2002 file photograph.

Credit: Reuters/Ian Waldie/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - Radical Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has won a delay in his extradition from Britain to the United States, days after he lost an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

A statement from the judiciary said on Wednesday a judge had granted an injunction after Abu Hamza and one other suspect lodged fresh appeals. It said these would be heard in open court on Tuesday.

The judge's ruling guarantees further attention to a case that has gripped the British media and even dragged in Queen Elizabeth.

Washington accuses the Egyptian-born 54-year-old of supporting al Qaeda, aiding a kidnapping in Yemen and plotting to open a U.S. training camp for militants.

Abu Hamza, who could face a sentence of more than 100 years in an ultra-secure "Supermax" prison, has argued that he faces inhumane treatment in the United States.

Abu Hamza and four other suspects lost their appeal against extradition in the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights on Monday.

Officials declined to give details on the basis for the fresh appeals lodged by Abu Hamza and Khaled Al-Fawwaz.

Normally, someone fighting extradition would have to present new evidence to win a fresh hearing after exhausting all possible appeals right up to the European court. An appeal could also be lodged for health reasons.

"A High Court judge has considered the applications on the papers and adjourned the cases to a hearing in open court," the statement said. "The judge has issued interim injunctions preventing their removal prior to those hearings."

Britain's Home Office, or interior ministry, stuck to its position that it would seek to hand over the suspects quickly.

"The European Court of Human Rights ruled there was no bar to the extradition of these men. We will continue working to ensure they are handed over to the U.S. authorities as soon as possible," it said in a statement.

Abu Hamza, a one-eyed radical with a metal hook for a hand who has praised the September 11, 2001 attacks, was once a preacher at a North London mosque but was later convicted of inciting murder and racial hatred. He is being held in a British jail.

On Tuesday, the BBC apologized to Queen Elizabeth after a senior journalist reported details of a private conversation with the monarch during which she supposedly told him she had complained to the last government about Abu Hamza.

The queen was said to be upset that Britain had not arrested him after he preached fiery anti-Western sermons outside a mosque in London after the September 11 attacks.

(Reporting by Alessandra Rizzo; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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