Cleric Abu Qatada can be deported, says Theresa May


Theresa May: "Today officers arrested and detained Abu Qatada"

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Radical cleric Abu Qatada can be deported to Jordan after fresh assurances that he will get a fair trial, the home secretary has told MPs.

In a statement to the Commons, Theresa May said he could now be removed from the UK "in full compliance of law".

But she admitted it may take "many months" as his lawyers could appeal up to the European Court of Human Rights.

Abu Qatada, 51, who faces charges in Jordan of plotting bomb attacks, was arrested earlier and denied bail.

A judge at a Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) hearing ordered him to be detained in custody following his arrest by UK Border Agency officials.

Mrs May said he "deserves to face justice" in Jordan but warned that successive governments had been trying to deport him for a decade.

"Deportation may still take time. The proper process must be followed and the rule of law must take precedence," she said.

"But today Qatada has been arrested and the deportation is under way. We can soon put Qatada on a plane and get him out of our country for good."

'No hold-up'

Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing Abu Qatada, earlier told a SIAC hearing the cleric would seek to revoke any deportation order and appeal if unsuccessful.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the prime minister was confident Abu Qatada would eventually be deported even if there were an appeal process taking "many months".

The European Court of Human Rights blocked his deportation to Jordan in January, saying evidence obtained by torture might be used against him.

Abu Qatada Abu Qatada is wanted in Jordan on terror charges

Mrs May travelled to Jordan in March for talks with the king and ministers on the case of the Palestinian-Jordanian, whom ministers have described as "extremely dangerous" and consider a threat to UK national security.

In seeking to satisfy the courts that his human rights would not be violated if he was deported, Mrs May told MPs:

  • The state security court was not a quasi-military court but a key part of the Jordanian justice system
  • Abu Qatada's case would be heard in public with civilian judges and his conviction in absentia would be "quashed immediately" upon his return to Jordan
  • The cleric would be held in a "normal civilian detention centre" with access to independent defence lawyers
  • His co-accused would be able to give evidence against him without affecting the pardons they have been granted
  • The Jordanian constitution was changed last autumn to include a specific ban on the use of torture evidence

Jordan's Justice Minister Ibrahim Aljazi said Abu Qatada would be given a fair trial if he was returned to Jordan.

He told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "What I would say [is] that there is a judgement issued against Abu Qatada in absentia, and when he arrives to Jordan, if he arrives, then he will be facing a fair trial."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper demanded to know whether he would be on a plane to Amman in "weeks, months or years".

Start Quote

She [Theresa May] has not courted popularity by doing this and has recognised there will be new legal scrutiny of the latest assurances”

End Quote Shami Chakrabarti Liberty

She asked in the Commons whether he would still be in Britain when the Olympics began in July.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, welcomed the move, but said: "As the home secretary herself said, there are some 15 cases awaiting resolution in the European courts.

"These cases must not be left to crawl through the court system. She must ensure a fast-track system is introduced for the most serious of cases.

"Only through the introduction of this measure can we ensure we do not have another Qatada down the line."

The cleric earlier appeared before a SIAC hearing in central London following his arrest on Tuesday afternoon.

Lawyers for Mrs May told the hearing she intended to deport the cleric on or around 30 April.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing Abu Qatada, said the arguments for deportation were based on "a series of unsubstantiated claims".

He denied there had been changes to the Jordanian constitution and said there was no evidence Abu Qatada's co-defendants had received pardons.

Robert Tam QC, representing Mrs May, said the cleric should be denied bail as he still had a high standing among extremists and could go into hiding like he did between 2001 and 2002.

A British judge ended Abu Qatada's six-year UK detention in February, weeks after the European Court of Human Rights blocked his deportation.

He was released from Long Lartin high-security jail in Worcestershire on strict bail conditions, including a 22-hour curfew allowing him to leave home for a maximum of an hour, twice a day.

Shortly before the cleric was arrested, Conservative MP Peter Bone told the BBC the government should deport him and deal with any legal consequences afterwards.

But human rights lawyer and campaigner Aamer Anwar accused UK ministers of "condoning torture" by persevering with attempts to send him for trial in Jordan.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said credit should go to Mrs May for resisting "many calls" to deport him by flouting the law.

"She has not courted popularity by doing this and has recognised there will be new legal scrutiny of the latest assurances that she has obtained from that country," Ms Chakrabarti said.

Abu Qatada has never been charged with any offence in the UK but British authorities have previously said he gave advice to those who aimed "to engage in terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings".

He faces a re-trial in Jordan for plotting bomb attacks against American and Israeli tourists during the country's millennium celebrations, offences he was convicted of in his absence.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    Why don't we try the "Captain Cordania" method.
    We were taking him " plane spotting" at RAF Northolt when he tripped and fell into a Jordanian Air Force Bizjet about to take off for Amman.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    My understaning is he originally entered the UK on a false/forged passport. Was that not enough to deport him on, without this prolonged dog & pony show?

    Who allowed his entry on an 'iffy' passprt?

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    The Government is finally getting good at this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.


    it is our problem to solve & not blame Eurocrat filth - we need a govt with guts here
    One that doesn't acquiese to every whim of our colonial cousins you mean?
    Why the absurd hyperbole?
    So that YOU can understand it and think that YOU need to answer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Qatada's preaching and his DVD's have served to inspire a generation of terrorists at worst and at best created animosity toward western secular society and its values . He has cost the British taxpayer a fortune in benefits for him and his family , he has used our health service and taken full advantage of weaknesses in our legal system .. and people wonder why there are Breiviks in this world .

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    Ha ha ha, bbc you removed my right to free speech because I broke the rules please explain!

    Yet you give non stop coverage to more than one suspected terrorist...

    Outrageous my licence fee yet I have to listen to the tripe on what a salute means but I'm not allowed to object to it.

    BBC have you recently launched a failed missile that crashed into the ocean?

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    send this vile man back today. I will pay for the ticket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    2 things I've never understood about this ridiculous situation:

    1. Why are all his family members living here on benefits? - surely they can be deported if they have no legal status as they are not on trial.

    2. Why do we pay for a 'legal team' to represent someone with no legal right to be here? - most British citizens could not access this level of representation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    OK so the UK has the Human Rights Act thanks to Labour

    The Human Rights Act allowed Human Rights cases to be heard in British Courts, previously all human rights cases (post 1959) had to be heard in the Council of Europe Court. The range of cases the court covered was increased in 1998 for all States. The UK signed up to the ECHR in 1950ish & has been obliged to obey it since 1953

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    Alan Robinson-Orr (235)

    Its people like you that have got this country into the mess it is in now. Too scared to state the obvious and to support rational action. There is nothing extreme here. Just people expressing their satisfaction with an approaching justice. Man-up will you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    The issue is whether you believe the assurances of the Jordanian authorities as regards the use of torture in their legal system. Their past record isn't good. If they do as they have promised then fine. If they don't then this deportation to stand trial is wrong. If you don't care about having torture in a legal system then I really do pity you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    It is very important that we stand by justice and human rights, as this is the standard we wish to be project to the world. It would be against our own principles to eject Qatada without due process, however much he seeks to abuse the western world and it's culture. It is a price we must pay for the sake of our freedom and in the UK we are proud of our sense of fairness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Now that this individual is going, how many more people need kicking out for preaching about starting with all those verbally abusing our troops & burning our flag.....oh yes that's right, the flag which is supposed to be their flag as well."

    Nick Griffin. And a couple Aussie Paedophiles unfortunately born here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    He should not have been allowed into the Uk in the first place. The HRA is a ludicrous piece of law, it only benefits crimminals.

    The government shoud repeal it without delay

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    Glad to see common sense has broken through, at least when he's gone the police won't face the complex irony of protecting an extremist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    236. liarbbc
    Re Liberty - It's called a sense of decency. They stand up for people who they feel deserve it, based on informed opinion. Something that can't be expected from somebody who just generalises (i.e. you). And where exactly do you draw the "preaching hatred" line? You're close to crossing mine... Should I demand you are kicked out as well?

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    231. Dicky D
    5 Minutes ago
    In law the only question then is do we send a man to be possibly tortured, the answer is yes

    If the Jordanians are only going to "possibly torture" him then I say give him to the Americans who will do the job properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    Cheerio. Don't come back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    Ask Mossad if they have any silenced 0.22's going spare-problem solved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Thank God for that.

    BluesBerry wrote:
    So, if I understand this correctly:
    1. Abu Qatada has never committed any crime in the UK.

    You need to understand what EXTRADITION means. He is being sent to another country for trial, a country with whom we have a treaty that prevents people from hiding in our country from (their) justice. I.e. he will be tried in Jordan for crimes committed in Jordan.


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