UK: Cleric appeals to Europe's human rights court

By the Associated Press | July 9, 2012 | 4:39 PM EDT

LONDON (AP) — Britain said Monday that radical Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri has lodged an appeal over his extradition to the United States with the European Court of Human Rights.

In April, the Strasbourg, France-based court ruled that the United Kingdom could send Al-Masri — considered one of Britain's most recognizable extremists — to the U.S. to face terrorism charges, saying that Britain would not violate EU human rights rules by extraditing him. Al-Masri could face a life sentence in the U.S. in a maximum-security prison.

But in the latest twist in the long-running legal battle, Britain's Home Office on Monday confirmed Al-Masri's appeal to the court. The Home office said it had welcomed the court's original judgment, but noted it will not become final until any appeal is decided.

Under standard procedure, a panel of Grand Chamber judges must now convene and decide whether to take up Al-Mari's case.

It was not immediately clear when the panel would meet, and officials at the court could not immediately be reached for comment.

Britain's government has sharply criticized the European Court of Human Rights over repeated delays.

Al-Masri, 53, who is blind in one eye and wears a hook for a hand, is known for his fiery anti-Western and anti-Semitic outbursts. He claims he has lost his Egyptian nationality, but Britain considers him an Egyptian citizen. The court listed him as a British national.

He is currently serving a seven-year prison term in Britain for inciting hatred and is wanted in the U.S. for a raft of alleged terrorist offenses, including trying to set up an al-Qaida training camp in rural Oregon.

Al-Masri has also been linked to the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998 and to preaching jihad — holy war — in Afghanistan.


Associated Press writer Angela Charlton contributed to this report.