Yemen would not hand over a U.S.-born, al-Qaeda-linked cleric to the United States because the law bans extradition of its citizens, a Yemeni official said Tuesday. The Yemeni-American cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, is believed to be hiding in Yemen since 2004. The U.S. says he is an active al-Qaeda recruiter.
Yemen's Islamic Affairs Minister Hamoud al-Hitar was quoted as saying by The Associated Press that Yemen is encouraging al-Awlaki to turn himself in, but if and when in Yemeni custody, he will not be extradited to the U.S. "There are constitutional and legal texts the government cannot get around," al-Hitar conveyed. According to him, the U.S. should provide any proof it has of al-Awlaki's terrorist ties "to the Yemeni justice system, so it can do its job."