20 May 2014

Cameron calls for faster extradition after Hamza verdict

David Cameron pledges to “take more steps” to speed up the deportation of people who pose a threat to Britain following the US conviction of Abu Hamza on terror charges.

Abu Hamza and David Cameron

Following a four-week trial, Abu Hamza – deported from the UK in 2012 – was found guilty on Monday of 11 charges including aiding hostage taking in Yemen and seeking to set up an al-Qaeda training camp in the US.

I think we should reflect on whether we can extradite faster. David Cameron

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, the British prime minister said it was “good that he (Hamza) has faced justice”.

He said that, if elected at the 2015 general election, he will “take more steps” to speed up extradition.

“I think we should reflect on whether we can extradite faster,” Mr Cameron said.

“I think Theresa May, the Home Secretary, did a brilliant job. It took 10 years but Abu Hamza, off to America, and, of course, Abu Qatada, deported to Jordan.

“We have made progress in a way no government before us has made progress and we should be clear that we have got a good domestic record in terms of prosecuting and convicting people who are guilty of terrorist offences here in Britain.”

‘Big steps’

He added: “I think speeding up extradition and speeding up deportation… I think we need to look at the avenues of appeal that there are and make sure that those are gone through more quickly, and we have made changes there.

“Obviously, we also need to look, as I’ve said many times, at the European Convention on Human Rights and the position that we have got to get into where, if someone threatens our country, we should be able to deport them if they have no right to be here and that is absolutely essential that we restore that.

“We have taken some big steps but I plan to take more steps if I’m elected as a Conservative prime minister after the next election.”

Life for Hamza?

Egyptian-born Hamza led the Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s, reportedly attended by both 11 September conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid, though the cleric denied ever having met them.

He later spread violent messages there following the attacks of 11 September 2001.

The 56-year-old preacher was jailed in the UK for seven years for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred in 2006 and first faced an extradition request from the Americans in 2004.

After a protracted legal battle he was extradited to the US in October 2012.

Hamza will be sentenced on 8 September, three days before the 13th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.