European court blocks terror suspect extradition

AP News
Posted: Apr 16, 2013 6:39 AM

LONDON (AP) — A European court on Tuesday blocked Britain from extraditing a mentally ill suspect accused of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that sending Haroon Aswat to a prison in the United States would breach his human rights due to the "severity of his mental condition."

The Strasbourg, France-based court said Aswat, a British citizen who is being held in England's Broadmoor secure psychiatric hospital, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

"In light of the medical evidence before it, the court found that there was a real risk that Mr. Aswat's extradition to the U.S.A., a country to which he had no ties, and to a different, potentially more hostile prison environment, would result in a significant deterioration in his mental and physical health," the panel of seven judges said.

Aswat is accused by U.S. prosecutors of conspiring with radical cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa — also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri — to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, more than a decade ago.

Mustafa, who gained notoriety in Britain as the fiery head preacher at London's Finsbury Park Mosque, was extradited to the United States last year after losing a long legal battle. He is currently awaiting trial.

Aswat was arrested on a U.S. warrant in 2005, and has been fighting extradition ever since.

Britain's Home Office said it was disappointed by the ruling, and was considering whether to appeal to a higher body of the court, the Grand Chamber.

If there is no appeal, the judgment becomes final in three months.