Judge approves suspect's extradition to US

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The Independent Online

A British al-Qa'ida suspect can be extradited to the United States, a judge ruled today.

Haroon Rashid Aswat is accused of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon.

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

Lawyers for Aswat immediately said he would appeal to the High Court.

Aswat who grew up in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, appeared in the dock dressed in black and wearing a black skull cap.

The long-haired, bearded 31-year-old was joined in the dock by four prison officers as Mr Workman read his judgment.

Aswat's defence had argued at previous hearings that there was a risk of him being designated an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo Bay if the British Government handed him over.

A US legal expert had also told the court that there was an "overwhelming risk" of him being subjected to special measures such as solitary confinement.

But Mr Workman said the court had received a diplomatic note on 20 December last year from the US Embassy in London.

The note assured the UK Government that Aswat would be "prosecuted before a federal court in accordance with the full panoply of rights and protections that would otherwise be provided to a defendant facing similar charges".

The note said Aswat would not be prosecuted by a military commission or treated as an enemy combatant.

Mr Workman said: "Whilst the note does not provide any personal protection to this defendant I am satisfied that it does bind the Government of the United States of America which in these terms includes the president."