European court says Britain should not extradite militant suspect

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 16, 2013 6:14 AM

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - A man held in Britain and accused of plotting to set up a militant training camp should not be extradited to the United States to face terrorism charges due to concerns over his mental health, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.

The court backed past decisions by its judges and a 2012 ruling by a British court on Haroon Aswat, who Washington accuses of links to al Qaeda.

The judges, based in Strasbourg, northeastern France, said extraditing Aswat would violate Europe's human rights convention which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment. They said he could be put in a maximum-security jail which could exacerbate his condition of paranoid schizophrenia.

A British citizen of Indian origin in his late 30s, Aswat was arrested in 2005 and is being held at the high-security Broadmoor psychiatric hospital in Berkshire, England.

A criminal complaint filed in a U.S. federal court has accused him of being involved in a plan to set up a training camp for Islamist militants in Oregon.

"The last forensic psychiatrist reports ... indicated that ... his detention in hospital was required for his medical treatment and such treatment was necessary for his health and safety," the rights court said in a statement.

The European court, whose rulings are not legally binding, ruled a year ago that Britain could extradite Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States to stand trial on charges that he supported al Qaeda and aided a fatal kidnapping in Yemen.

Judges ruled that if Egyptian-born Hamza and four other suspects were sent to high-security U.S. prisons, it would be lawful and they would not receive "inhuman and degrading treatment".

(Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Brian Love and Pravin Char)