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Abu Hamza

Abu Hamza is a British national who was stripped of citizenship in 2003 but after years of legal proceedings won an appeal on the basis that depriving him of citizenship would render him stateless. Hamza was subsequently extradited to the US where he now serves life in prison.

Abu Hamza was born in 1958 in Egypt. He came to the UK in 1979 at the age of 21, subsequently getting a British citizenship in 1986. Happening in 2010 it was the first citizenship deprivation case in 30 years, just three days after the amendments of section 40 to the British Nationality Act. At that point, Hamza held a dual British-Egyptian citizenship. Yet his legal proceedings got significantly delayed and by the time his appeal was heard in SIAC, Hamza had already lost his Egyptian citizenship. This made it impossible for Theresa May to strip him of his British citizenship as it would result in Abu Hamza being left stateless. During the appeal hearing in 2010 SIAC focused considerable attention to the issue of statelessness, eventually allowing Hamza to keep his British citizenship. This was however not the end of Abu Hamza’s legal case proceedings. Looming in the background of his citizenship deprivation case was an extradition warrant from the US dating back to 2004.  Hamza took his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) arguing against extradition on the grounds of inhumane treatment. In 2012, ECHR dismissed his appeal and Abu Hamza was subsequently extradited to the US where he faced several charges for involvement in terrorism. In 2015, Hamza was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in the US. He is preparing to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to be able to serve his sentence in the UK.

Key sources

SIAC (2010) Abu HAMZA and Secretary of State for The Home Department, Appeal No: SC/23/2003,