Lawyers for Abu Hamza were scrambling last night to appeal against a formal order by the home secretary for the radical preacher’s extradition to the US.
Jacqui Smith signed the order yesterday afternoon, meaning Abu Hamza would be sent to the US to face a possible life sentence on terrorism charges within a month, unless his lawyers appeal within 14 days.
Abu Hamza and his supporters used threats and violence to take over a mosque in Finsbury Park, north London, which they turned into an academy for jihadi terrorism. He is serving a seven-year sentence in Britain for inciting hatred, but the government wants him sent to the US before his jail term is completed.
Abu Hamza’s lawyer, Muddassar Arani, told the Guardian her client would appeal within the time limit set down in extradition law: "They’ve used evidence gained from torture to implicate him in terrorism," she said. She claimed that one person who implicated the preacher had been tortured in a US-run secret prison, and another alleged witness had been tortured in Guantánamo Bay.
Arani said one ground of appeal would be the threat that Abu Hamza would be held in a US super max prison where he would be denied human contact: "It will be inhuman and degrading treatment, he will be in total isolation, he will have no human contact with anyone." The US alleges Hamza was in contact with Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists and aided the hostage-taking of 16 western tourists in Yemen in December 1998 that ended in the deaths of three Britons. He is also charged with attempting to set up a training camp for "violent jihad" in Oregon in 1999.