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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 23:37 GMT
UK approves Abu Hamza extradition
Abu Hamza al-Masri
Abu Hamza has 14 days to appeal against the decision
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has approved the extradition of radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States on terror charges.

Abu Hamza, 49, of west London is wanted by the US authorities on charges which include providing support to Al Qaeda.

The Egypt-born preacher is currently serving a seven-year jail term in the UK for inciting murder and race hate.

Abu Hamza's lawyer says he will appeal, but if it fails he will be handed to the US authorities within 28 days.

'Grave concerns'

The extradition was originally approved by a court in London in November, but the actual handover to US authorities had been pending the final approval of that decision by the home secretary.

The Americans have said he will not face the death penalty or be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp - but how can we be sure?
Muddassar Arani

Abu Hamza's solicitor, Muddassar Arani, says he will appeal against the home secretary's ratification of the extradition order. They have 14 days to do so.

Ms Arani, said: "There are grave concerns about what might happen if the extradition goes ahead.

"The Americans have said he will not face the death penalty or be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp - but how can we be sure?

Torture fear

"I also fear that if he was sent to America he would become a victim of torture.

Ms Arani added: "I understand this might be a popular move with some sections of the public. But we have to ask ourselves whether it is morally right.

"We have standards in this country that will not be upheld if we extradite Abu Hamza and whatever people think of him they should understand that."

The US government wants to put Abu Hamza on trial on 11 charges.

This is excellent news for Britain's Muslim community
Khalid Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Perry Bar

It alleges that he funded terrorism, organised a "terrorist training camp" in Oregon between 1998 and 2000, and conspired to take 12 Westerners hostage in Yemen in 1998.

The American charges carry a potential jail sentence of 100 years. Abu Hamza's lawyers claim US evidence has been gained through torture.

Khalid Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, welcomed the home secretary's decision.

He said: "This sends out a clear message to preachers of hate - you are not welcome.

'Delighted'

"Those who propagate evil, hate and division cannot be a part of British society.

"This is excellent news for Britain's Muslim community. For too long Abu Hamza tarnished their name and now they will be delighted to learn he will face further charges in the US."

Abu Hamza was convicted in February 2006 of 11 of the 15 charges he faced in the UK.

He became well known as the imam of Finsbury Park mosque in north London but was dismissed from his position in 2003 after making speeches supporting al-Qaeda and criticising the invasion of Iraq.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage of Abu Hamza al-Masri preaching



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