Evidence against Qatada 'gained by torture'

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The Independent Online

Evidence against a terrorist suspect that the Government is attempting to deport to Jordan was extracted through torture, a court heard yesterday.

Abu Qatada, who has been described as Osama bin Laden's representative in Europe, has launched an appeal to remain in Britain.

The hearing of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) is a key test of government moves to deport alleged terrorists to countries with poor human rights records.

Mr Qatada denies any link to Bin Laden and claims he poses no risk to Britain and could be killed or tortured if he was returned to Jordan.

His barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, told the hearing: "The appellant strongly suspects the national security case against him is based on material obtained as a result of torture."

A Guantanamo Bay detainee, Jamil el-Banna, was "repeatedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment by the US authorities with a view to forcing him to provide details against the appellant", Mr Fitzgerald said.

Ian Burnett QC, for the Home Office, said: "The evidence clearly shows the risk posed by him to the United Kingdom's national security." He said Mr Qatada had provided "spiritual advice and religious legitimacy" for overseas terrorist activity, including issuing fatwas encouraging terrorism, supported terrorism on British soil, fundraised for terrorism and recruited extremists.

Mr Burnett said the Government was confident Jordan would abide by a "memorandum of understanding" that it would not ill-treat any terrorist suspects that were returned to the country.

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.