The cat-and-mouse game between Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical preacher fighting extradition to America, and the British government appears set to continue even after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected his appeal on Monday, paving the way for his deportation.
Even as a triumphant Home Office was preparing to put him on a plane to the United States, Hamza on Wednesday sprang a surprise by getting a temporary injunction from a British court, halting his extradition.
Details of his appeal to the High Court were not disclosed but the Judicial Office confirmed that Abu Hamza and Khaled Al-Fawwaz — another person whose extradition was ordered by the ECHR — had been granted temporary injunctions.
“A High Court judge has considered the applications on the papers and adjourned the cases to a hearing in open court. The judge has issued interim injunctions preventing their removal prior to those hearings. The judge has directed the hearings be fixed urgently,” a spokesperson said.
The Home Office insisted that it would “continue working to ensure they’re handed over to the U.S. authorities as soon as possible”.
The latest turn in Hamza’s eight-year-long legal battle against extradition was dismissed by experts as nothing more than “part of the standard cut-and-thrust of the legal world”, as the BBC Home Affairs correspondent put it.
Hamza would have to prove that there was “new and compelling” factor not already considered by the courts before.
The Egyptian-born Hamza, whose real name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, is wanted in the U.S. over allegations that he plotted to set up a terror training camp in Oregon and was involved in kidnapping western hostages in Yemen.
Hamza’s s argument that his extradition would be an infringement of his human rights, as he feared he would not get a fair trial in America, was rejected by the ECHR.