The British Government was on Tuesday preparing to hand over Abu Hamza al-Masri, the controversial radical preacher, to U.S. authorities after he lost a last-ditch appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against his extradition.
This brought the curtain down on his eight-year long legal battle that saw even the Queen dragged into a row. The BBC was on Tuesday forced to offer a grovelling apology to her after its security correspondent Frank Gardner revealed on-air details of a private conversation during which she reportedly raised concerns over the delay in deporting Hamza.
“The conversation should have remained private and the BBC and Frank deeply regret this breach of confidence. It was wholly inappropriate. Frank is extremely sorry for the embarrassment caused and has apologised to the Palace,” it said.
The 54-year-old Egyptian-born Hamza, whose real name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa , was jailed for seven years in 2006 on charges of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred after his rabble-rousing sermons at a London mosque.
He 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 resulting in the death of four tourists.
The court rejected Hamza’s argument that his extradition would be an infringement of his human rights as he feared that he would not get a fair trial in the U.S.
Four other men — Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz — accused of being Osama bin Laden’s agents in London also had their appeals against extradition to the U.S. rejected. Like Hamza, they had also argued that they would be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in America.
The Home Office said it would “ensure” that the five were “handed over to the U.S. authorities as quickly as possible”.
Babar Ahmed’s family said that as the allegations against him related to his actions in Britain he should not be extradited. He is accused of running extremist websites — one of them hosted in America.