British to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan following guarantees


ABU QATADA (52), once described as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, can be extradited to Jordan, British home secretary Theresa May told MPs, though months of legal appeals are guaranteed.

Following guarantees from Jordan that he will not be tortured, the home secretary has ordered that the radical Islamic cleric, who was arrested again yesterday morning, be extradited at the end of the month.

He has been free on bail since the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) blocked his extradition to Amman because it said he is at “serious risk” of being tortured. The British government says it is now convinced that the Jordanian pledges will pass legal challenge.

Despite vocal criticism of the Strasbourg court by Mrs May and leading Conservative MPs, the government did not seek to challenge a ruling by some of the ECHR’s judges to the court’s Grand Chamber. The deadline for lodging an appeal passed on Monday night. British ministers feared an appeal could make their difficulties worse, since the judgment did uphold the general right of the British government to deport international terror suspects if treatment guarantees were offered by the receiving state.

The home office feared it could lose on this point if the case went to a full hearing in Strasbourg, sources in London said last night, thus putting several other deportation cases under way at risk.

While still “vehemently” disagreeing with the Strasbourg ruling, Mrs May said Mr Qatada’s case would be heard in public in Jordan with civilian judges.

“On his return to Jordan, Qatada’s conviction in absentia will be quashed immediately. He will be detained in a normal civilian detention centre where he will have access to independent defence lawyers,” she said.