Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Abu Hamza Wants to Return to London Prison

Abu Hamza Wants to Return to London Prison

Monday, 18 December, 2017 - 10:15
Egyptian hardline preacher Abu Hamza. (Reuters)

Egyptian preacher Mustapha Kamel Mustapha, dubbed Egyptian Abu Hamza, can no longer stand the conditions in US prison and wants to return to Belmarsh British prison.

The former Finsbury Park imam registered an appeal against his detention at the maximum security ADX Florence prison.

The convicted hardline preacher, 59, claims his conditions at the prison violate human rights under Article 3 of the European Convention, which protects people from "inhuman and degrading treatment".

The Sunday Times reported that in October 2015, Abu Hamza was convicted of 11 terrorism offenses and was deported to the US, where is spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement and is only allowed out of his cell for an hour.

He claims that he is "permitted to one hour per day of recreation time outside of his cell... [and] even during that one-hour recreation, however, [he] is still confined within a cell-sized cage" on his own, according to the newspaper.

Before US prosecutors won their eight-year legal battle to transfer him from the UK in October 2012, Abu Hamza was locked up at Belmarsh, southeast London, where conditions were quite different.

Hamza is a double amputee, blind in one eye, suffers from diabetes, psoriasis and a condition where he sweats excessively and has to shower twice a day.

In his appeal, the preacher argued that he received at Belmarsh daily visits from medical staff, regular doctor visits, and was allowed to mix with other inmates. But, according to the appeal, at the US prison he is subject to regular outbreaks of infections in his hands, which have been increasing in severity.

One of Abu Hamza's lawyers stated: "We strongly believe that the conditions of his confinement violate the expectations of the European Convention on Human Rights and the promises that were made by the US government to the [British and European] courts as part of the extradition process."

The lawyer reiterated that Abu Hamza would go back to Belmarsh in a second if he could.

Asharq Al-Awsat received a letter from Abu Hamza sent to his family two years ago in which he described his confinement conditions in the US prison. He told the family that he is not allowed to see or talk to anyone and they continue to give him canned food.

The preacher was finally granted the permission to speak to his family for 30 minutes once a month, however, he was denied this right recently for failing to submit a urine sample.

Abu Hamza claimed the tube they gave him to provide the sample was very small and he was not able to hold it.

Mustapha Kamel Mustapha, or Abu Hamza al-Masri, was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1958, the son of a naval officer and a primary school headmistress. He graduated from civil engineering college, and in 1979, he entered the UK on a student visa.

In 1980, he was granted UK citizenship after marrying his first wife, a British Muslim convert, the mother of his oldest son, Mohammed Kamel, who was convicted of being part of a bomb plot in Yemen and was imprisoned for three years in 1999.

Abu Hamza later divorced his first wife and remarried in 1984 a woman whom he had met in a Muslim celebration in London.

Over the years, Hamza has given several different reasons for why he had lost his hands and eye including: a road paving project in Pakistan, an explosion while working in a mine in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, during a fight with the Pakistani Mujahideen, and during an accidental bombing while working with Pakistani military in Lahore.

Editor Picks