British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith signed an order Feb. 7 for the extradition of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical cleric imprisoned in the UK who is wanted by federal prosecutors in New York. Al-Masri, the former imam of north London’s Finsbury Park Mosque, has 14 days to lodge an appeal to the High Court against extradition and may also appeal to the House of Lords or the European Court. Al-Masri, who is blind in one eye and sometimes wears a hook in place of one of his missing hands, is currently serving a seven year sentence at the high-security Belmarsh Prison in southeast London. He denies US claims that he tried to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and aided a 1998 hostage-taking raid in Yemen. (Bloomberg, Feb. 8)
We have noted that al-Masri’s 2006 conviction in the UK has ominous implications for free speech. He was also linked to another case in the Pacific Northwest which likewise appears to target freedom of expression.
See our last post on the UK.