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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  • Comment number 866.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 865.

    The reason Qatada and his ilk ferment such angst and despair in the UK is that it highlights our lack of self determination and soveriegnty as a nation.
    The people see continued immigration at the cost of social cohesion and traditional UK values. Those in power bemoan the difficulties of the removal of threats yet those same people fail to protect our borders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 864.

    852 With the intolerance and casual exhortations to violence against those you disagree with, you and Mr Qatada have far more in common with each other than you think.
    What you wrote in the moderated posts is precisely what Jordan want him tried for, so if he is a undesireable hatemonger , then what are you?

  • Comment number 863.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 862.

    .... and he's still here - WHY all the rhetoric Theresa, it makes the government look stupid and dosn't do you any favours

  • rate this

    Comment number 861.

    Why does Abu Gatada live in Britian if he hates it so much, could it be the £2 million house and free money and health benefits, after all there are plenty of other countries he could make his home but they are not so generous are they.

  • rate this

    Comment number 860.

    Alan T thanks
    Thought as much !
    I suppose they are discriminating against those that are at home weekdays, the unemployed, housewives, the retired.
    An organisation filled with such disregard whilst taking their money is doomed ( I hope ) The BBC used to be such a great institution before the raving Leftist Liberals & `the tribe' took it over

  • rate this

    Comment number 859.

    Rather than focus our attempts on human rights for this man, there are many a person who's human right is infrindged by having him within our walls. It seems strange that we protect him from torture, when ultimately we may be putting others in danger by keeping him in our walls. I think in this case, the needs of the many (our human right to safety) outways his (one for a man who wishes to kill).

  • rate this

    Comment number 858.

    this incompetent minister needs some good news and she is milking this one for all it's worth.may is being peddled as the date of retribution for this obnoxiuos individual,well unless may (is there a pun to be got) knows something we don't, i would advice one not to hold one's breath...

  • rate this

    Comment number 857.

    I think it is absolutely right to deport this man. It is a testimony to human stupidity that we have been unable to get rid of him sooner. Sometimes we get so blinded by "human rights" that we overlook the obvious - this man is simply using this country, which he hates, as a safe haven from justice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 856.

    853. this_comment_was_banned
    >>>All other HYS topics seem to return
    This entry is now closed for comments
    11.07 p.m 18th 2012
    Why ?

    Because the BBC no longer values HYS and is not staffing it after hours, or sometimes even in weekday daytimes. I have complained: If you value HYS, you should do too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 855.

    David Horton .... my sympathies, I feel the same
    The BBC are agents for those who hate us,and want our people wiped of the face of the earth ...freedom of speech in the UK does not exist

  • rate this

    Comment number 854.

    23. scirop
    >>>Amazing how, for years he has been preaching hate towards our laws and way of life, yet when the poop it's the fan - it's our laws and way of life he tries to hide behind.

    Indeed, it's an irony! However, in my opinion, our position at the opposite end of the continuum from the "summary justice" Qatada and his ilk advocate is a far better place to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 853.

    All other HYS topics seem to return
    This entry is now closed for comments
    11.07 p.m 18th 2012
    Why ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 852.

    "...Send us your comments."
    I have done, twice. Your moderators then decided that someone, somewhere on the planet might have been offended by my suggestion that his rapid demise is my preferred option for him.

    The BBC is pathetically subservient to political correctness; suppressing the majority opinion, yet allowing any amount of magical-being-in-the-sky lunacy from certain religious sects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 851.

    @850.Albert Hall
    However, it is the duty of international govts. to protect the human rights of their citizens and if a terrorist impedes that protection of rights then it is down to the govts. to take appropriate measures against said terrorists

  • rate this

    Comment number 850.

    What about the human rights of the victims that he has encited others to infringe?

    Human Rights law only applies to Government bodies not individuals so by its nature it can only used by those who come into conflict with governments.
    If people wish to be able to take action against individuals for Human Rights offences it would necessitate extending Human Rights law to cover that

  • rate this

    Comment number 849.

    @842.Total Mass Retain
    I think the point concerning the absurdity & futility of observing international law in the case of Qatada has been abundantly re-stated on this forum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 848.

    Let's hope once he is deported the Jordanians stick him in a dark room and allow the families of his victims to have a quiet "word" with him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 847.

    Why do we bother having Law Lords and a judiciary- If whatever statute they , in their wisdom, deem to be justice can be over ruled by a foreign court-
    We are in it so have to obey it-
    The answer is- Get out of it- and lets once more be governed by our own .


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