Abu Qatada treaty endorsed by King of Jordan

Abu Qatada
Image caption Abu Qatada was convicted of terrorism charges in his absence in Jordan in 1999

The King of Jordan has endorsed a treaty with the UK, paving the way for the deportation of radical cleric Abu Qatada.

The treaty will become law once the document is published in the Jordanian government's official gazette.

In the UK, the treaty is expected to be passed by MPs and become law on Friday.

The cleric has already indicated he will not challenge deportation if the treaty is passed because the document guarantees him a fair trial.

Once the treaty passes all of its legal hurdles in both countries, the cleric's deportation is expected to resume.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May would be able to issue a fresh deportation order. The cleric would have time to respond if he wished to, but that is expected to be only a few days.

Britain has been trying to deport Abu Qatada since 2005, and he has been detained and released several times during the legal battle. The Home Office has revealed the eight-year legal fight to deport the cleric has cost taxpayers more than £1.7m so far.

Terrorism charges

If Abu Qatada keeps to an assurance given in court that he will leave the UK because the treaty guarantees a fair trial, he would be put on a plane in a matter of weeks, not months.

Security minister James Brokenshire said: "The government remains committed to securing Abu Qatada's deportation as quickly as possible."

Abu Qatada arrived in Britain and claimed asylum in 1993, but became notorious for preaching radical views such as support for the killing of Jews and people who leave Islam.

In 1999, the cleric was convicted of terrorism charges in his absence in Jordan and sentenced to life in prison.

He now faces a retrial on those charges, but his lawyers have said some of the evidence may have come from people who were tortured to make them implicate him.

The European Court of Human Rights and senior British judges have ruled that before Abu Qatada can be deported, Jordan must show he would not face a trial that relied on evidence obtained by torturing others.

The UK-Jordan Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance, signed in March, states that anyone deported from the UK must be treated humanely and be given a fair trial. It includes specific guarantees designed to ban the use of torture evidence.

Abu Qatada is currently in London's Belmarsh Prison after breaching a bail condition which restricted the use of mobile phones and other communication devices.

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