LONDON — Radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other terrorism suspects who fought for years to avoid facing charges in the United States lost their grounds for appeal and were flown to the U.S. from Britain late Friday, officials said.
The U.S. Embassy said it was pleased with the ruling made earlier Friday by Britain's High Court, and Scotland Yard said the five departed from an air force base in eastern England just before midnight on two jets bound for the U.S.
Judges John Thomas and Duncan Ouseley rejected last-ditch applications by al-Masri, Khaled al-Fawwaz, Babar Ahmad, Adel Abdul Bary and Syed Talha Ahsan, who had been battling extradition for between eight and 14 years.
Thomas said there were no grounds for any further delay, noting that it was "in the interest of justice that those accused of very serious crimes, as each of these claimants is in these proceedings, are tried as quickly as possible as is consistent with the interests of justice."
"It follows that their extradition to the United States of America may proceed immediately," the judge said.
The five have sought to avoid extradition by raising concerns about human rights and the conditions they would face in a U.S. prison. Both British and European courts have ruled that they can be sent to the U.S. to face charges, but they sought last-minute injunctions from the High Court.
The suspects face a variety of charges stretching back several years.