LONDON (Reuters) – Radical Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has won a delay in his extradition from Britain to the United States, days after he lost an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
A statement from the judiciary said on Wednesday a judge had granted an injunction after Abu Hamza and one other suspect lodged fresh appeals against their extradition. It did not give the basis of their appeals, but said these would be heard quickly in open court.
The judge’s ruling guarantees further publicity in a case which has gripped the British media and even dragged in Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.
Washington accuses the Egyptian-born 54-year-old of supporting al Qaeda, aiding a kidnapping in Yemen and plotting to open a U.S. training camp for militants.
Abu Hamza, who could face a sentence of more than 100 years in an ultra-secure “Supermax” prison, has argued that he faces inhumane treatment in the United States.
Abu Hamza and four other suspects lost their appeal against extradition in the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights on Monday.
Britain’s Home Office, or interior ministry, said after that ruling that it would hand over the suspects “as quickly as possible”.
The Judicial Office, which handles communications from the judiciary, said in a statement both Abu Hamza and Khaled Al-Fawwaz, had launched fresh appeals but refused to answer questions about the details.
Normally, someone fighting extradition would have to present new evidence to win a fresh hearing after exhausting all possible appeals right up to the European court.
“A High Court judge has considered the applications on the papers and adjourned the cases to a hearing in open court,” it said. “The judge has issued interim injunctions preventing their removal prior to those hearings. The judge has directed the hearings be fixed urgently.”
Abu Hamza, a one-eyed radical with a metal hook for a hand who has praised the September 11, 2001 attacks, was once a preacher at a North London mosque but was later convicted of inciting murder and racial hatred. He is being held in a British jail.
On Tuesday, the BBC apologized to Queen Elizabeth after a senior journalist reported details of a private conversation with the monarch during which she supposedly told him she had complained to the last government about Abu Hamza.
The queen was said to be upset that Britain had not arrested him after he preached fiery anti-Western sermons outside a mosque in London after the September 11 attacks.