Abu Hamza arrested at the request of the US, which seeks his extradition
Islamic cleric Abu Hamza (aka 'The Hook') was arrested in London early this morning at the request of the US authorities. They are seeking his extradition to the United States and have announced his indictment on 11 charges.
I have just been watching US Attorney General John Ashcroft on BBC News24, leading a news consference in New York where he read out the charges Abu Hamza faces and stating that the maximum penalty is "death or life imprisonment"; of course, this is grand-standing for US domestic public opinion as British law will require the US to agree that it will not seek to apply the death penalty prior to any extradition being agreed by the British authorities - as a signatory to the ECHR the UK could not agree to an extradition without such an agreement, nor should it.
On the other hand, I expect the British authorities (and me, for that matter) will be quite happy to have complied with the US request to arrest this man; he has been a troublesome presence here for a number of years, but I suspect that the British authorities felt that the evidence they had to hand was not sufficient for us to arrest and charge him ourselves, although his life has already been made as difficult as the law allows. I cannot imagine most in the UK will object to his extradition, always provided that the US agrees to provide the necessary assurance relating to the non-availability of the death penalty as a potential punishment in his case.