A British al-Qaeda suspect faces extradition to the United States after a London court accepted US diplomatic assurances that he would be offered the "full panoply of rights and protections" and not face military justice.
Haroon Rashid Aswat is accused of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, between 1999 and 2000.
District Judge Timothy Workman, sitting at Bow Street Magistrates Court in London, said today that he was satisfied Mr Aswat could be extradited and was sending the case to Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, for a final decision. Lawyers for Mr Aswat immediately said that he would appeal to the High Court.
Mr Aswat, who grew up in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, appeared in the dock dressed all in black and wearing a black skull cap. The long-haired, bearded 31-year-old was joined in the dock by four prison officers as Mr Workman read his judgment.
Mr Aswat's defence team had argued at previous hearings that there was a risk of him being designated an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo Bay if the British Government handed him over. A US legal expert had also told the court that there was an "overwhelming risk" of him being subjected to special measures such as solitary confinement.
But Mr Workman said that the court had received a diplomatic note on December 20 last year from the US Embassy in London. The note assured the UK Government that Mr Aswat would be "prosecuted before a federal court in accordance with the full panoply of rights and protections that would otherwise be provided to a defendant facing similar charges".
The note said Mr Aswat would not be prosecuted by a military commission or treated as an enemy combatant.
Mr Workman said: "Whilst the note does not provide any personal protection to this defendant I am satisfied that it does bind the Government of the United States of America which in these terms includes the President."
Lawyers for Mr Aswat had also argued that evidence against him in the United States came from another al-Qaeda suspect and had been obtained by the threat of inhuman treatment against that suspect.
But Mr Workman said the issue of whether that evidence was admissible or not was for a trial court in the United States to decide.
He said: "It may be that this evidence would not be admitted but the evidence which goes before a jury in the United States must be an issue for the trial court and not for this court."
Mr Aswat, who was arrested in Lusaka, Zambia, last year has denied any involvement in terrorism. His barrister, Paul Bowen, said that Mr Aswat had asked him to say a few words to the court.
Mr Bowen said: "He wants to say that he is an innocent man, that he has nothing to hide and nothing to fear from a trial itself. What he fears is the process he faces in the United States. He will be exercising his right to appeal to the High Court."
Mr Clarke has up to two months to approve the decision.