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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Hamza could face US terror charges
Sheikh Abu Hamza
Sheikh Abu Hamza praised Osama Bin Laden
Controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri may be put on trial in America on terrorist charges.

The outspoken preacher, who is in the process of being stripped of his British citizenship by Home Secretary David Blunkett, could now be extradited to the US for alleged links to al-Qaeda.

Prosecutors want to bring Mr Abu Hamza to justice using new evidence from an American supporter of al-Qaeda who has agreed to give evidence against him in exchange for a plea-bargain deal.

James Ujaama, 37, who has lived in Britain and spent much of his time at the Finsbury Park mosque used by Mr Abu Hamza, appeared in court in Seattle on Monday.

Ujaama, accused of raising funds for al-Qaeda, agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiring to help Osama bin Laden's terror group.

James Ujaama
James Ujaama went to Finsbury Park mosque
Authorities dropped more serious charges, including one of plotting to set up an Islamic terrorist training camp in Washington state, in exchange for information about Mr Abu Hamza's activities.

US intelligence has long believed the north London cleric, who once praised the destruction of the World Trade Center, is a key member of an al-Qaeda recruiting network in Europe.

It has been reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft has now told prosecutors in New York to seek an indictment against Mr Abu Hamza accompanied by an extradition request to Britain.

The UK and America recently signed a new extradition treaty to speed up the process, but a magistrate would have to be satisfied there was a case to answer.

Mr Abu Hamza denies any involvement in terrorism but Yemeni authorities claim he sent eight Britons there to bomb western targets.

'Human Rights abuse'

In a statement, Mr Abu Hamza's solicitors Arani & Co claimed Ujaama's evidence was "coerced" from him by the US and could lead to "gross miscarriage of justice taking place".

"It therefore comes as no surprise that Mr James Ujaama under such pressure, whilst on remand, away from his family, who are in the UK, is likely to provide evidence which is tainted.

"The fact that a man wishes to have his liberty in return for making available whatever the prosecutors wish to hear is an indication of how desperate Mr James Ujaama is.

"This in turn will only lead to further abuses of human rights, unfair trials and curtailing freedom of expression and lead to gross miscarriage of justice taking place."

The cleric's financial assets have been frozen and he has been ousted from the Finsbury Park mosque and faces being thrown out of Britain after living here for 20 years.

Mr Blunkett aims to use new immigration powers to remove Mr Abu Hamza's citizenship because he has acted against national interests.

He is expected to appeal against the deportation, which could take several years, but the process could be halted if there is an extradition request from the US government.




SEE ALSO:
TGWU boss condemns Hamza move
06 Apr 03  |  Politics
Banned cleric leads prayers
08 Feb 03  |  England
Profile: Abu Hamza
17 Jan 03  |  UK News
Muslim cleric ousted at mosque
04 Feb 03  |  UK News


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