Radical cleric ‘to lose citizenship’

BBC, Apr. 4, 2003
http://news.bbc.co.uk/

The Home Office has started proceedings to strip the controversial radical Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza of his UK citizenship, the BBC has learned.

It is understood the Home Office has written to the preacher giving him ten days to appeal.

This follows the introduction of new powers earlier this week allowing British nationality to be removed from people with dual citizenship who are believed to have acted against the vital interests of the UK.

Tabloid newspapers and a number of MPs have pushed for Mr Hamza’s removal from the country as he has angered many with praise for Osama Bin Laden and condemnation of Britain, the US and Israel.

Terror suspicion

Egyptian-born Mr Hamza has been resident in the UK since 1979, gaining British citizenship back in 1981.

A former Soho nightclub bouncer, Mr Hamza has become the controversial face of radical Islam in the UK.

He was a regular preacher at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London until his suspension by the Charity Commission last April.

In 1999 Abu Hamza was questioned by Scotland Yard detectives on suspicion of terrorism offences in Yemen.

He was held for several days before being released without charge. He has always maintained his innocence.

The Yemeni authorities had requested his arrest and extradition, claiming he was linked to plots to bomb targets there.

But Mr Hamza came to real public prominence in the aftermath of September 11 when he praised the terrorist attacks on the US.

Home Office lawyers believe Mr Hamza’s Egyptian nationality has never been revoked as a result under section four of the Asylum, Immigration and Nationality Act 2002 the radical cleric could be stripped of his citizenship.

This will be the first test case under the new powers.

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