Hate preacher Abu Hamza wins right to keep British passport

Jailed: Abu Hamza is in Belmarsh

Hate preacher Abu Hamza has won an appeal against the Government’s attempts to strip him of his British nationality.

A tribunal today ruled in favour of Hamza’s argument that such a move would render him “stateless” as he had already been stripped of his Egyptian citizenship.

The finding came in a 12-page ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

In his judgment Mr Justice Mitting said: “We are satisfied on balance of probabilities that if a deprivation order were to be made, the appellant would be made stateless.”

Hamza, 52, was jailed for seven years in February 2006 for inciting murder and race hate in sermons at Finsbury Park mosque.

He would be eligible for release but remains in Belmarsh jail while he challenges attempts to extradite him to the United States on terror charges.

That case was delayed by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in July, which called for further submissions over the length of his sentence and the conditions he would experience if extradited to ADX Florence, a so-called “supermax” prison in Fremont County, Colorado.

Attempts to take his passport away were launched in 2003 but delayed by other legal actions against him.

At a three-day hearing in London last month, Hamza’s lawyers argued that he has already been stripped of his Egyptian citizenship so cannot have his British passport taken too.

But the Home Office said there was no documentation to prove he was no longer an Egyptian national and although he was once denied an Egyptian passport, he was later allowed one.

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. However, a decree in 1988 allowed him his citizenship back.

But Egyptian law expert Sabah Al-Mukhtar, appearing as a witness for Hamza, told the commission it was possible he had been stripped of his nationality later on for other reasons. However, the expert admitted some of his report was based on speculation as well as Egyptian law.

James Strachan, for the Home Office, said Mr Al-Mukhtar’s interpretation was a “fundamental disagreement” with the Home Office’s own expert’s evidence.

However, Mr Justice Mitting ruled that on the “balance of probabilities” it was probable that Hamza was stripped of his Egyptian nationality.

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