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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Abu Hamza fights US extradition
Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza is wanted by the American government
Controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri should not be extradited from the UK to face terror charges in the US, a court has been told.

Lawyers for Abu Hamza, 49, from west London, told a hearing in London that US evidence had been gained through torture and should not be used.

Prosecutor Hugo Keith denied the claim, saying it would use phone records and the cleric's own admission at a trial.

Abu Hamza is serving seven years for inciting murder and race hate.

The US government is seeking his extradition and trial on charges of conspiring to take Western hostages in Yemen, funding terrorism, and organising a "terrorist training camp" in Oregon between 1998 and 2000.

The 11 charges carry a potential jail sentence of 100 years.

'Jihad'

Preliminary extradition proceedings took place in May and the full hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court is expected to last several days.

Abu Hamza appeared via video link from London's Belmarsh prison, where he is serving his sentence.

At the earlier hearings, the US government accused Abu Hamza of being part of a "global conspiracy to wage Jihad against the US and other Western countries".

At an earlier hearing, Mr Keith said that a group of Westerners including 12 Britons, two Americans and two Australians were abducted in Yemen in 1998, partly in order to gain the release of Abu Hamza's stepson Mohsen Ghailan and five others.

The hearing was told that Abu Hamza gave advice to the hostage-takers and provided them with a satellite phone.

Four of the captives - Britons Margaret Whitehouse, 52, a teacher from Hampshire, Ruth Williamson, 34, an NHS employee from Edinburgh, university lecturer Peter Rowe, 60, from Durham, and Australian Andrew Thirsk - were killed after Yemeni authorities tried to rescue them.

Egyptian-born Abu Hamza, who preached at Finsbury Park Mosque, in north London, was convicted in February 2006 of 11 of 15 charges he faced in the UK.

In addition to being jailed for soliciting murder, he was also found guilty of inciting racial hatred, possessing "threatening, abusive or insulting recordings" and for having a document useful to terrorists.

The extradition hearing continues.



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