Abu Hamza 'stateless' if passport bid fails

Lawyers for hate preacher Abu Hamza today argued he should keep his British passport because he has been stripped of his Egyptian nationality.





The radical cleric is appealing against an attempt by the Home Office to take his passport away from him.



At a hearing before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac), Hamza's lawyers are arguing he has been stripped of his Egyptian citizenship so cannot have his British passport taken too, as that would render him "stateless".



But the Home Office says there is no documentation to prove he is no longer an Egyptian national and though he was once denied an Egyptian passport, he was later allowed one.



At the start of a three-day hearing in central London today, the commission heard 52-year-old Hamza may have had his Egyptian nationality revoked but the country's government would not confirm whether he had or not.



The cleric came to Britain on a student visa and acquired a British passport through marriage.



He was denied an Egyptian passport in 1982 because he had not undertaken military service, the panel heard, but a decree in 1988 allowed him his citizenship back.



But Egyptian law expert Sabah Al-Mukhtar, appearing as a witness for Hamza's legal team, told the commission it was possible he had been stripped of his nationality later on for other reasons.



He said by refusing Hamza a passport the Egyptian government was giving a "de facto" denial of his nationality.



The panel heard that under Egyptian nationality laws, a citizen cannot obtain a foreign nationality without government permission.



If they do, that nationality may not be recognised by the Egyptian government.



And today Mr Al-Mukhtar said his interpretation of the law was if an Egyptian obtained a foreign nationality without permission, they would be stripped of their Egyptian citizenship.



He said: "There must be a sanction. That could be one of two things - either to treat the acquired nationality as invalid or to lose the original nationality - otherwise it becomes a meaningless provision."



But James Strachan, for the Home Office, said this interpretation was a "fundamental disagreement" with their expert's evidence.



He said Hamza had travelled to Egypt using a British passport and had been granted a visa to visit the country.



"None of these events require or mean that he has been stripped of Egyptian nationality.



"The 1988 decree demonstrates conclusively that in fact the appellant was granted permission to obtain British nationality and to retain his Egyptian nationality," he said.



Mr Al-Mukhtar replied: "At that date absolutely, what happens after that is another matter."



The panel heard decisions of people having their nationality taken from them were usually published in the country's "Official Gazette.



Mr Al Mukhtar said: "I have not seen any decision of the Government to stop him but I am suggesting to you that the government does not actually, despite what we have said, need to announce it.



"If that decision 1988 had a fault in it then it becomes invalid, then the government does not have to do anything about it."



But the expert admitted some of his report was based on speculation as well as Egyptian law.



"In my experience this is one of the few cases where I am being asked to give advice on speculation rather than facts," he said.



"Because the Egyptian government would not answer the straight question as to whether he has or has not got a nationality we had to get the experts in."



Hamza, who was jailed for seven years in February 2006 for inciting murder and race hate, is in Belmarsh Prison as he challenges attempts to extradite him to the US on terror charges.



That case was delayed by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in July, which called for further submissions over the length of his sentence and the conditions he would experience if extradited to ADX Florence, a so-called "supermax" prison in Fremont County, Colorado.



Attempts to take his passport away were launched in 2003 but delayed by other legal actions against him.



The Siac hearing, scheduled to last three days, was adjourned until tomorrow at 10.30am when Mr Al-Mukhtar is due to continue giving evidence, as well as Hamza himself.

News
news
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Sport
video
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Arts & Entertainment
artYouth club owner says mural is 'gift from the sky' so he can prevent closure of venue
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?