US press response to Abu Hamza extradition decision

11 April 2012 by

Waking up in New York this morning, I find the newspapers are much exercised by the recent decision of the Strasbourg Court to allow the extradition of certain terror suspects to the US, as discussed in Isabel McArdle’s post. The colourful New York Post declares unambiguously that “Thugs face Extradition” (April 11),  following its banner headline of yesterday “UK can extradite hook-handed clerk, 4 other terrorists to US”. And just in case any passing reader failed to get the point, the strapline says

Britain can extradite a one-eyed, hook-handed radical Muslim cleric and four other suspects to the United States to face terrorism charges, Europe’s human rights court ruled today.

Giving rather more detail by way of background, today’s edition of The New York Times explains that Britain

has struggled to balance civil liberties and domestic security in the face of entrenched Islamic extremism and repeated terrorist attacks, and has sought to deport some of the dozens of subjects it has detained in scores of possible plots over a decade

According to the NY Times, the director of the national prison project for the American Civil Liberties Union found the ruling “disappointing”, and showed that the Strasbourg Court seemed willing to accept “dubious” assurances from the United States.

The Wall Street Journal observes that the judgment may smooth the way for future extraditions by making it harder for lawyers defending terrorist suspects to successfully argue against extradition to the U.S. on claims that they would be mistreated. The paper quotes Benjamin Wittes, a national-security law expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, who said the ruling gives a boost to counterterrorism cooperation between the U.S. and countries covered by the European court:

The court has in the past “issued some aggressive opinions that really constrain counterterrorism actions by countries that are signatories,” he said, adding that the ruling “does seem to put a real limit” on how far the court will go to limit such cooperation.

Under the headline “European Court Approves Moving Terror Suspect to the United States” Time magazine’s blog “Global Spin” remarks that the ruling is a “vote of confidence” that U.S. prisons conform to European standards—even when terror suspects are involved and compared it with the very different approach to the proposed extradition to Jordan of Abu Qatada –

For critics of the European court, the divergent judgments in the Hamza and Qatada cases point to the same problem: that a court based outside of Britain has jurisdiction over the country’s decisions. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, former American ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said London should renounce jurisdiction of the court. “It’s a question of what do British people want to do?” he said. “Do you want to be an independent nation, or do you want to be a county in Europe?

In short, it seems that there is a general welcome across the board for the apparent change of attitude in Strasbourg to the question of extradition to the US.  But no-one is actually crowing, not at least until the final legal steps for completing the extraditions are completed.

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3 comments


  1. “Britain can extradite a one-eyed, hook-handed radical …”

    Could somebody explain the relevance of these points? This journalist has as much charm as Hamza.

  2. cidermaker says:

    The issue of inhumane treatment of the alleged terrroists in the US was and is a spurious argument used simply as a delaying tactic by their legal teams. Firstly they will be tried within the Federal Judicial System, which is soundly based on the Common Law, Secondly they will, if found guilty, be detained in in
    a Federal prison. The treatment of prisoners in such prisons, including the so-called ‘super-max’ at Florence, has to meet Federal standards. We are not talking about ‘hell-holes’ or concentration camps, the prisons are part of the regular prison system in the US, The extradition of these alleged terrorists is most welcome and will, hopefully mark a stepping stone in cooperation beetween the UK and the US.

  3. r1xlx says:

    Doesn’t the UN Declaration say ‘ states have a duty to protect and improve health of their citizens etc’? How can allowing terrorists to flourish here and cause NHS and social security and legal aid funds be wasted on them be seen as the state protecting etc?

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