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Radical cleric Hamza wins appeal to retain British passport

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-05

Jailed radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza has won an appeal against government attempts to strip him of his British passport, after a special tribunal agreed he risked being left "stateless".

REUTERS - Jailed radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza won his appeal against the government’s attempts to strip him of his British passport on Friday after a special tribunal agreed he risked being left stateless.

Lawyers for the 52-year-old, who has a hook in place of a missing hand, had argued during last month’s tribunal that he had already had his Egyptian citizenship taken away and that to take his British passport too would render him stateless.

But the Home Office said there was no documentation to prove he was no longer an Egyptian national.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in London allowed his appeal in a 12-page ruling, the Press Association reported.

“We are satisfied on balance of probabilities that if a deprivation order were to be made, the appellant (Hamza) would be made stateless,” Mr Justice Mitting ruled.

Egyptian-born Hamza was jailed for seven years in 2006 over sermons he gave from his London mosque that advocated the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims.

He is currently in Belmarsh Prison challenging attempts to extradite him to the United States.

He is wanted on charges of trying to set up an al Qaeda camp and of involvement in plotting the seizure of 16 Western hostages in Yemen in 1998.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Prime Minister David Cameron was “disappointed” with the decision but that it would not affect the ongoing extradition proceedings.

Attempts to take his passport away were launched by the British government in 2003 but delayed by other legal action against him.

The commission heard 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 Hamza may have been stripped of his nationality later for other reasons.

He said his interpretation of Egyptian nationality law was that if an Egyptian obtained a foreign nationality without permission, they would be stripped of their Egyptian citizenship.

But James Strachan, for the Home Office, said: “The 1988 decree demonstrates conclusively that in fact the appellant was granted permission to obtain British nationality and to retain his Egyptian nationality.”

Date created : 2010-11-05