By DANICA KIRKA, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — A British court issued an interim injunction Wednesday blocking the extradition of a radical cleric to the United States on terror charges, granting a court hearing for an appeal.
Mustafa Kamal Mustafa — who is better known as Abu Hamza al-Masri — challenged his extradition on charges that include helping set up a terrorist training camp in rural Oregon. The appeal marked yet another legal twist in a case that has wound its way through the courts for eight years.
Khaled Al-Fawwaz, a second terror suspect, has also mounted a legal challenge before Britain's High Court.
Britain's Home Office immediately challenged the appeals.
Judicial authorities said in a statement that a hearing would be held Tuesday to consider the two men's applications. Sonn Macmillan Walker, a London law firm representing al-Masri, declined to provide details "given the sensitive nature of this matter."
The grounds of al-Masri's appeal were not immediately clear, but it was certain to stoke an ongoing debate in Britain about extradition laws. Critics have charged that the country's laws allow litigants to drag out their cases for years.
Lawyer Karen Todner, an extradition specialist, said the men would have to show the judge evidence of a new argument that had not been previously considered.
"They could only have gone back to court on a new matter that wasn't apparent before, such as a new health situation," she said.
The appeals follow a European court decision Monday that was believed to have cleared the way for the cleric's extradition and that of four other suspects after an eight-year legal battle.
The Egyptian-born former nightclub bouncer, who claimed he lost his eye and hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, used north London's Finsbury Park Mosque as a base to persuade young Muslims to take up the cause of holy war. The mosque was once attended by Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.
After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the cleric praised Osama bin Laden and declared "many people will be happy, jumping up and down at this moment." He is wanted in the U.S. on multiple terrorism-related charges, including assisting in the taking of 16 hostages — including two American tourists — in Yemen in 1998 and conspiring to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, between 2000 and 2001.
He is serving a jail sentence in Britain on separate charges of inciting hatred.
Associated Press writer Sylvia Hui contributed to this report.