5 Mar 2012

May in Jordan for Qatada deportation talks

Home Secretary Theresa May visits Jordan to seek assurances that information obtained by torture would not be used against radical cleric Abu Qatada if he is deported from Britain.

Qatada - Reuters

The 51-year-old could be freed from his bail terms in three months if Mrs May cannot demonstrate progress is being made in the talks.

Last month, security minister James Brokenshire held “useful discussions with the Jordanian authorities” about Qatada’s mooted deportation.

He was released from Long Lartin high-security jail in Evesham, Worcestershire, on 13 February after applying for bail when human rights judges in Europe ruled he could not be deported without assurances from Jordan that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that sending Qatada back without such assurances would be a “flagrant denial of justice”.

And on his release, Mrs May said: “It simply isn’t acceptable that, after guarantees from the Jordanians about his treatment, after British courts have found he is dangerous, after his removal has been approved by the highest courts in our land, we still cannot deport dangerous foreign nationals.”

She vowed the government “will do everything” possible to deport Abu Qatada before the start of the Olympics, saying that he “poses a serious risk to our national security”, has a “long-standing association with al-Qaeda” and provides “religious justification for acts of violence and terror”.

She added: “We will do everything we can within the existing legal regime to deport Qatada and we’re doing everything we can to reform that regime to avoid these cases in future.”

Abu Qatada supporters post hate sermons

Qatada was let out under some of the toughest conditions imposed since the September 11 terror attacks.

He is free to leave his London home for just two one-hour periods each day, is banned from taking his youngest child to school, and cannot talk to anyone who has not been vetted by the security services.

He is also banned from visiting mosques, leading prayers, giving lectures or preaching, other than to offer advice to his wife and children at his home.

Qatada, also known as Omar Othman, was convicted in absentia in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and has featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

Since 2001, when fears of the domestic terror threat rose in the aftermath of the attacks, he has challenged, and ultimately thwarted, every attempt by the Government to detain and deport him.