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Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Tuesday, 10 April 2012 09:33 UK

ECHR to rule on Hamza extradition

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The European Court of Human Rights will rule this morning on whether six terrorist suspects, including the radical cleric, Abu Hamza, can be extradited from the UK to the United States.

The six men involved in today's case say they face ill-treatment if sent to America because they could be held in solitary confinement in a high-security jail in Colorado, known as a "supermax" prison.

Lance Tapley, journalist at the Portland Pheonix and writer on "supermax" maximum security jails in the US, told the Today programme's James Naughtie that the point of "supermax" prisons in which prisoners are put in "extreme isolation" is to "damage a persons mind... and can lead to it being destroyed and move on into degrading your soul."

He said that from a prison wardens point of view, a prisoner who has been damaged like this is more controllable.

Ray Luc Levasseur, former inmate at ADX Florence Penitentiary in Colorado, said that this ruling would have huge implications for those in the United States because he was imprisoned for political crimes involving explosions in protest of apartheid.

"Very few politicians want to touch this issue because they do not want to be seen as being soft on crime," said said Lance Tapley but said that international interest has put "supermax" prisons into focus.

Dr. Amna Ahmad, sister of Babar Ahmad, a 36-year-old computer expert who has been in a UK prison without trial for nearly eight years, said that in her brothers case, evidence which was collected was sent to the US rather than being "looked at properly by the Crown Prosecution Service".

Babar Ahmad was arrested in 2004 on an extradition warrant from the United States after US prosecutors say he headed a terrorist "support cell" in London through a website called Azzam.com.

Dr. Ahmad argued that her brother was living and working in Britain, "why should he be extradited?", she asked.


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