FRANKFURT -- Germany's supreme court said yesterday it has approved the extradition of two Yemenis to the United States, where they are wanted on charges of supporting Al Qaeda.
The Federal Constitutional Court said Sheik Ali Hassan al-Moayad and his alleged assistant, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, could expect a fair trial in the United States, rejecting the complaints they filed against lower-court decisions backing extradition. The final decision on extradition lies with the German government.
The two were arrested on Jan. 10 in a sting operation at a Frankfurt hotel, where they had expected to meet a wealthy American Muslim. US and German authorities say they learned in December 2001 that Moayad was involved in supplying money and militants for Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network as well as to the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas.
According to papers from a Brooklyn federal court supporting the extradition request that were released in March, Moayad told an FBI informant that he supplied $20 million, recruits, and weapons to bin Laden in the years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
If convicted in the United States, Moayad would face up to 60 years in prison, US prosecutors have said. Zayed, who faces a conspiracy charge, could be jailed for up to 30 years.
Yemen, an ally of the United States in the antiterrorism campaign, has asked for both men to be returned to their homeland.
Officials there have said Moayad, a leading member of Yemen's Islamic-oriented Reform Party, left his country for medical treatment in Germany 10 days before his arrest. The former legislator has asthma and diabetes. The arrest sparked protests in Yemen, and President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen raised the issue with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder during a visit to Germany in June.