Terror suspect clears extradition hurdle

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One of America's most wanted terrorist suspects today overcame a major legal hurdle in his long-running battle against extradition.

A decision by two judges in the High Court in London means that Khalid Al Fawwaz can apply for an appeal in his case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Earlier this year Lord Justice Scott Baker and Mr Justice David Clarke rejected his latest court action against extradition from Britain.

Although they refused him permission today to appeal against their ruling to the highest court in the land, they announced that the case involved points of law of general public importance - a prerequisite for applying directly to the Supreme Court in a bid to have an appeal heard.

If the Supreme Court refuses to hear his application it could then be open to him to take his case to Europe.

Al Fawwaz claims his human rights would be breached if he was sent to a US "supermax" prison.

He has spent more than 10 years in custody in Britain, at a reported cost of £1m to the taxpayer.

When the judges rejected the latest round of his extradition battle in August, they also dismissed a similar case brought by another terror suspect, Adel Abdul Bary.

They also refused Bary permission to appeal today, but certified points of law of general public importance.

Lord Justice Scott Baker said, when giving judgment in August, that the two men were "accused by the Government of the United States of America of participation in a conspiracy to murder United States citizens, United States diplomats and other internationally protected persons".

He said: "It is alleged that a key figure in the conspiracy was Osama Bin Laden and that two of the overt acts of the conspiracy were the synchronised bombings of the United States embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam on 7 August 1998.

"As a result of the explosion in Nairobi 213 people died and some 4,500 were injured. Eleven people died as a result of the Dar Es Salaam explosion.".

The latest proceedings arose after Al Fawwaz, 46, from Saudi Arabia and Bary, from Egypt, were informed on 12 March last year that the Home Secretary had issued warrants authorising their return to the United States.

At the heart of the High Court judicial review proceedings was the claim that conditions at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado (ADX Florence) would breach article three of the Human Rights Act which ensures protection from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Referring to a number of assurances given by the United States government in the event of extradition, Lord Justice Scott Baker had said those assurances "can be relied on with complete confidence".