The notorious former imam of the Finsbury Park Mosque, Abu Hamza al Masri has finally been charged with 16 offences.
"Mr Abu Hamza now faces 10 charges of soliciting to murder under section four of the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861.
Four charges were brought of using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour with intent to stir up racial hatred"
"Lastly, Mr Abu Hamza faces one count of having threatening, abusive or insulting audio and video recordings"
However, only one minor charge is actually related to terrorism
"He is accused under section 58 of the Terrorism Act of possessing a document which contained information "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism"
Section 58 'Collection of information' of the Terrorism Act 2000, is so widely drawn that you could, at the whim of the authorities, be charged under it for possessing a telephone directory or many openly available books or magazines, or photographs of public buildings etc.
"(3) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he had a reasonable excuse for his action or possession"
Abu Hamza seems to be a hateful man but there is obviously no proof that he is or was a key member of the Al Quaeda logistics chain, like the USA authorities are trying to paint him as.
Where are the charges involving supply of money, or weapons, or terrorist training, or direction of terrorism, or even membership of a proscribed terrorist organisation ?
The United Kingdom charges take precedence over any extradition attempt by the USA, for crimes mostly alleged to have taken place in the Yemen. The terrorist leader with whom Abu Hamza was in contact with via satellite phone, was executed several years ago by the Yemenis, and so is not available to testify against Abu Hamza. Other charges on the USA indictment, based on testimony of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, who could easily be discredited as a witness who has been totured or having been encouraged to alter his testimony in the hope of pleasing his captors, seem to be equally hard to prove e.g. what USA or UK law actually defines or forbids "violent jihad" as a separate crime ?
It will be quite a surprise if any of the "soliciting to murder" or "racial hatred" charges are actually as a result of Abu Hamza's utterances directed against specific individuals.
Where are the people who are alleged to have been "solicited to murder" sombody ? Will there actually be witnesses appearing in person against Abu Hamza, or will the only evidence be video and tape recordings, which can, of course be faked or edited so easily. ?
How reliable can any such witnesses actually be, given the role of the "undercover" reporter who claims to have infiltrated the Finsbury Park mosque and obtained videos and documents, whilst it was under Abu Hamza's control. This needs to be examined carefully, in case the whole prosecution collapses for similar reasons to recent notorious News of the World "stings" i.e. the payment of witnesses/agent provocateurs.
It seems that there are people who are making money out of the Abu Hamza story e.g. the author of the book "Terror Tracker: an odyssey into pure fear" Neil Doyle, undercover investigator Glen Jenvey who allegedly infiltrated the Abu Hamza's entourage on behalf of Doyle, and video publisher Johnathan Galt who seems to be making the videos of Abu Hamza's "sermons" available.
Given the hype that this book has generated amongst various newspapers and TV programmes in the UK and the USA, we hope that none of the charges being brought against Abu Hamza are the result of tainted "evidence" produced or illegally obtained by these people. Even Abu Hamza's "sermons" are protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 .
Even if they are just amateur meddlers, or unscrupulous "journalists" trying to make money, Abu Hamza's legal defence team are likely to portray their activities as part of a state sponsored conspiracy against him.