British terror suspect can be extradited to US, court rules

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The Independent Online

A British man accused of trying to set up an al-Qa'ida terrorist training camp in Oregon can be extradited to the United States, a court has ruled.

A district judge said yesterday that Haroon Rashid Aswat can be sent to America to face trial. Lawyers for the 31-year-old, from West Yorkshire, are to appeal to the High Court.

Lawyers for the American government have accused Mr Aswat of helping to set up a terrorist camp to train Americans and Britons to fight in Afghanistan. They claim the suspect arrived in New York from the UK in November 1999 and had computer disks showing how to make bombs and poisons. Mr Aswat stayed in Bly, Oregon, for a month before going to Seattle.

Mr Aswat, who denies any involvement in terrorism, is also accused of claiming to have been in a training camp in Afghanistan and to have met Osama bin Laden. He could face up to 15 years in jail in the US.

Mr Aswat's defence argued at previous hearings that there was a risk of him being designated an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo Bay if Britain handed him over. They had also argued evidence against him in the US came from another al-Qa'ida suspect and had been obtained by the threat of inhumane treatment.

But the court heard yesterday that the US embassy in London had sent a diplomatic note assuring the UK government that Mr Aswat would be "prosecuted before a federal court".

District Judge Timothy Workman, sitting at Bow Street magistrates' court in London, said he was satisfied that Mr Aswat could be extradited and was sending the case to Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, for a final decision.