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Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza arrested

Abu Hamza was arrested on Thursday under the Terrorism Act 2000, on suspicion of inciting terrorist activities in Britain.
PTI | By UK Bureau, London
UPDATED ON SEP 25, 2004 12:59 PM IST

Abu Hamza Al Masri, the radical Muslim cleric facing extradition to the US, was arrested in jail on Thursday on suspicion of terrorist activities in Britain.

Hamza, the former imam of Finsbury Park mosque in north London was arrested at Belmarsh prison where he is being held during extradition hearings. He was arrested on Thursday under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Following his arrest he was taken to the high-security cells at Paddington Green police station.

Police and Crown Prosecution Service lawyers said that if he were charged in Britain, his trial would take precedence over any extradition decision and 11 charges made by the US. The US cannot guarantee that Hamza will not be executed if convicted in the US.
 
His arrest under the Terrorism Act, however, does not suggest any terrorist plot but he is being questioned about allegations of acting as a facilitator, which could mean being involved in raising funds for terrorist groups and supporting and encouraging people to go abroad to join terrorist movements.

Under the Extradition Act 2003 the latest development means that the US case against him will be adjourned until domestic legal proceedings are completed. The speculation now is that since he cannot be extradited to face possible capital punishment, charges might be brought against him here.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "A UK charge would take precedence over the extradition case."

Hamza, 47, appeared via videolink at a remand hearing last week before Bow Street magistrates court. His next scheduled appearance in his fight against extradition is scheduled for October when his lawyers are due to argue for him to remain in Britain.

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