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Zambia to Deport Terrorism Suspect to Britain

Zambia says it will return to Britain a man suspected of links to terror activities both in the United Kingdom and the United States.

President Levy Mwanawasa told reporters in Lusaka the suspect, Harron Rashid Aswat, will be deported to Britain. Mr. Mwanawasa declined to say when, but said it would be soon.

Mr. Aswat was arrested in the Zambian capital last month after traveling to Zambia from Botswana. But several weeks before the July 7 suicide bombings in London, Mr. Aswat, a British national, was in South Africa, where he was reportedly being tracked by the the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with an alleged attempt to set up a terrorist training camp in the U.S. state of Oregon. Reports say that South Africa wanted to arrest Mr. Aswat and hand him over to the FBI, but when South African officials informed the British government of their intentions, British officials advised them not to hand Mr. Aswat over.

Mr. Mwanawasa says that both United States and British security officials have interrogated Mr. Aswat in Zambia and that the United States agreed that he should be sent to Britain. But some reports say the FBI has had an aircraft and crew on standby in Lusaka to whisk Mr. Aswat to the United States.

Mr. Aswat is widely reported to have close ties with Osama bin Laden and Abu Hamza al-Masri, a Muslim cleric currently detained in Britain who is also wanted in the United States. He is said to be around 30 years old and of Indian origin, although he grew up in Britain. Some reports say he may be the mastermind behind the July 7 bombers.

British embassy officials confirmed Wednesday they had had access to Mr. Aswat. They made no comments on whether he is on a wanted list. Earlier the British government declined to confirm that it wanted to interview Mr. Aswat in connection with the suicide bombings on July 7.