Home Office minister to visit Jordan over Qatada

 

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The Independent Online

A Home Office minister is to fly to Jordan to try to gain assurances that would enable radical cleric Abu Qatada  to stand trial in the country.

Downing Street officials said James Brokenshire would be travelling to the Middle East state next week.

Prime Minister David Cameron is also due to speak to King Abdullah of Jordan about the case by telephone later today.

Mr Cameron told MPs at Prime Minister's Questions: "We are doing everything we can to get this man out of the country. The absolutely key thing to do is an agreement with Jordan about the way that he will be treated.

"This guy should have been deported years ago. Nevertheless, if we can get that agreement with Jordan, he can be on his way."
An immigration judge ruled earlier this week that  Qatada  - once described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe" - should be released on bail after more than six years in custody fighting deportation.

It followed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that he could not be sent back to Jordan without assurances that he would not be tried with evidence obtained under torture.

Officials said Mr Brokenshire would now be seeking those assurances from the Jordanians to enable the deportation to go ahead.

Mr Cameron said the current situation in the wake of the European court ruling was "completely unacceptable".

"It is not acceptable that you end up with a situation where you have someone in your country that threatens to do you harm, that you cannot try, you cannot detain and you cannot deport," he said.

"The Government will do everything it can working with our Jordanian friends and allies to make sure that he can be deported."
Qatada , also known as Omar Othman, 51, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and has featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

Since 2001, when fears of the domestic terror threat rose in the aftermath of the attacks, he has challenged, and ultimately thwarted, every attempt by the Government to detain and deport him.

The ECHR ruled last month that sending  Qatada  back to face terror charges without assurances about the conduct of a trial would be a "flagrant denial of justice".

The ruling was the first time that the Strasbourg-based court has found an extradition would be in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a fair trial, which is enshrined in UK law under the Human Rights Act.
An immigration judge ruled earlier this week that  Qatada  - once described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe" - should be released on bail after more than six years in custody fighting deportation.

It followed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that he could not be sent back to Jordan without assurances that he would not be tried with evidence obtained under torture.

Officials said Mr Brokenshire would now be seeking those assurances from the Jordanians to enable the deportation to go ahead.

Mr Cameron said the current situation in the wake of the European court ruling was "completely unacceptable".

"It is not acceptable that you end up with a situation where you have someone in your country that threatens to do you harm, that you cannot try, you cannot detain and you cannot deport," he said.

"The Government will do everything it can working with our Jordanian friends and allies to make sure that he can be deported." .
Qatada , also known as Omar Othman, 51, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and has featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

Since 2001, when fears of the domestic terror threat rose in the aftermath of the attacks, he has challenged, and ultimately thwarted, every attempt by the Government to detain and deport him.

The ECHR ruled last month that sending  Qatada  back to face terror charges without assurances about the conduct of a trial would be a "flagrant denial of justice".

The ruling was the first time that the Strasbourg-based court has found an extradition would be in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a fair trial, which is enshrined in UK law under the Human Rights Act.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the Prime Minister and Mr Brokenshire would be seeking assurances that Jordan will not use evidence gathered by the use of torture in any trial of Qatada.

"We want to work with the Jordanians," said the spokeswoman. "The Prime Minister hopes to move this forward so we can be in a position where we can deport Qatada."

PA