US sentences Muslim cleric to life imprisonment

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Jan. 9 sentenced Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri (BBC profile) to life in prison for supporting terrorism. Hamza was convicted and found guilty of 11 criminal charges in May. The charges included planning to establish a jihad training camp in Oregon, conspiring to kidnap Americans in Yemen by enabling hostage-takers to speak on a satellite phone, and supplying the Taliban with goods and services. Judge Katherine B. Forrest characterized al-Masri's actions as "barbaric," and said she could not imagine a time in which his release would be safe. 

Al-Masri pleaded not guilty in October 2012 to all 11 of the charges he faced. His extradition was approved by the High Court of England and Wales earlier that month. The decision came a week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its final approval of the extradition. The ECHR's decision marked a change for the court from its position two years earlier, when it stayed the extradition of four terrorism suspects to the US, holding that potential punishment could violate European Convention on Human Rights provisions on the prohibition of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment. 

From Jurist, Jan. 10. Used with permission.