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 706.

    The dogged persistence of this Government, while fully respecting proper legal process, does it hige credit. It contrasts sharply with Labour's half-hearted efforts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    702. Ady
    I think the plan is to extradite Abu Qatada to Jordan, you are probably thinking Abu Hamza.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    Today the human race and the BBC have shown how evil and deprived they are
    they must all have attended the camps in snowdonia

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    Send him to justice... Jordanian style. After all, he isn't Saddam Hussein being sent to Iraqi Justice or Gadaffi being delivered to summary Libyan justice. Clear consciences all around. Jordan has the death penalty for terrorism. So there will be no need to waste time torturing him either just rendite him there (all legally and proper of course) and keep telling them he is a terrorist. Job done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    You might as well shoot him in the head in Heathrow Terminal

    He might be a scumbag buy the guy hasn't a snowflakes hope in hells chance of a fair trial in the USA

    British justice was always a travesty with political prisoners
    From the IRA to the Islamic muppets, from 1970 to 2011, no improvement, nothing learned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.


    What's to misunderstand? They are a highly Islamophobic organisation that attracts and inducts into its ranks violent, racist, hooligans and then refuses to take responsibility for them. Pretty clear cut if you ask me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    679. insert_name_here

    So much misunderstanding about the English Defence League. Have a read of the mission statement. By the nature of being a single issue organisation it encompasses a broad range of people who won't agree on a lot of things but on this one issue of muslim extremism they do. Are they perfect people, probably not, are you ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    Lets hope they get him on a plane before anyone else can throw a spanner in the works. He chose to behave in the way that he has. He chose to be a dangerous extremist fanatic. If he hates us so much and hates our country so much, then good riddance. And all the hand wringing Liberal apologists should join the rest of us in the real world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    Lets hope he goes. He gives good Muslims a bad name.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    Look, did you incite violence or terrorism when you were in this country or any other?

    If so, thank you for enjoying our hospitality, but please leave.

    Pas problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    Send him to the Tower of London!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    Although I am a great believer in free speech and a voice of opposition when required, to take it to the extreme of preaching it, never mind inciting racial hatred must be considered Neanderthal and has to be dealt with in the harshest terms.
    Any group or organisation sharing similar ideologies hopefully will be tackled with equal vigour, be they religious or political.
    As for Qatada-good riddance

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    One of many. Now GO

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    He should have been put on a plane out of here long ago; the UK must be the only nation on earth with a government so weak that it allows a foreign court to overrule its national interests. 'Justice' is not the issue: Qatada's public preachings of hate are quite sufficient to justify booting him out. If he gets a rough time somewhere else, good - it might discourage other dangerous zealots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    I'd bet a tenner him and Abu Hama are still here this time next year and the year after,By hook or by crook.

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    I rarely find a reason to applaud the government, but the Qatada problem is one of them.Due process has to be followed, and everything must be done to protect his human rights.It's nice to see this being done.Basic rights and due process must be applied to everyone in this country, regardless of their nationality, creed or what they stand accused of.Otherwise we become the people we stand against.

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    "David Pickles
    if Cameron had had the courage to give the people an EU referendum ... then this whole charade wouldn't have been necessary as the European Court of Human Rights"

    It is easy to see why a referendum is not such a good idea when there are so many people like you so woefully informed on the different European institutions. The UK signed upto the ECHR before the EEC ever existed

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    I wonder how much it is costing the UK taxpayer for holding this crazy man under house arrest and all the other legal requirements that come with that. As an economist that would be interesting to no in a time of economic down turn. As a British Muslim I say get this man out this country. Why do we worry about his human rights when he is willing to violate our human rights?

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    Have you no pity for this persecuted individual or for the Human Rights of the legal fraternity to profit from the public purse on his behalf?

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    @680 Billythefirst

    That's a fair call.

    Rewarding integrity? Would be a start, a small one mind.

    So a government, or parliamentarians in general, preaching responsibility for ones own actions and behaviour to the masses, quite rightly so, but then also abiding by the same principles themselves!

    Do you think it will catch on ?


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