Abu Qatada extradition latest: Radical cleric reveals he will return to Jordan voluntarily if its parliament guarantees anti-torture treaty

 

Abu Qatada will leave Britain voluntarily if a new law banning the use of torture evidence in Jordan is passed, his barrister revealed today.

Government attempts to rid the country of the 52-year-old radical cleric have been repeatedly thwarted by the courts with judges unhappy at assurances from Jordan that he will receive a fair trial. But last month Home Secretary Theresa May revealed that a treaty had been obtained with the Arab kingdom that would offer guarantees that torture evidence would not be used against him.

Today Prime Minister David Cameron was said by his spokesman to remain “absolutely determined to put Abu Qatada on a plane back to Jordan”.

At a hearing before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac), Edward Fitzgerald QC said: "There has been a development in the form of a treaty signed on 24 March.

"That treaty is clearly designed to meet the requirements laid down by Mr Justice Mitting as to evidence admissible at a retrial, if there is a retrial. If and when the Jordanian parliament ratifies the treaty, Mr Othman will voluntarily return to Jordan."

"There's never been a time in the last 12 years that Mr Othman and his family could safely return to Jordan,” Mr Fitzgerald said, adding: "For a long period of time, he has made it clear that he wishes to leave lawfully. He has made it known that he would be willing to discuss returning to Jordan providing conditions could be discussed."

The QC, who is expected to ask for bail at a hearing in 10 days’ time, said his desire to leave meant he would not abscond if released: "Why would he make himself lawless and subject to arrest when he has said that the right thing to do is to go back to Jordan once the assurances are given?"

Last year Home Secretary Theresa May told Parliament that she had received assurances from Jordan’s King Abdullah II that a constitutional change meant torture evidence would no longer be used and Qatada, who was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, would receive a fair retrial. However, human rights’ groups in the country said that it would take three years for the constitutional amendments to come into force and while incidents of torture had lessened, they still continued with impunity.

Today Robin Tam QC, for the Home Secretary, told the tribunal that the new treaty would be laid before the Jordanian parliament in the next few weeks, while the UK side of the process should be completed by late June.

Mr Justice Irwin said the Home Secretary would need to provide evidence of when it became law: "Not merely when it has been ratified but when it's in force."

Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "I welcome Abu Qatada's commitment to voluntarily returning to Jordan if the treaty is ratified.

"The Home Secretary must get on a plane to Jordan and secure ratification immediately before Mr Qatada changes his mind. I have today written to the Prime Minister of Jordan to ask what the timetable is for ratification."

Qatada, whose bail conditions included a ban on using the internet or contacting certain people, is currently in Belmarsh having been re-arrested in two months ago.

Mr Justice Irwin told the tribunal that on 7 March the cleric's home was searched by police. A total of 17 mobile phones, three USB sticks, one SD card, five digital media devices and 55 recordable CDs or DVDs were found, the judge said.

Timeline

September 1993 The Jordanian claims asylum when he arrives in Britain on a forged passport.

April 1999 Convicted in Jordan, in his absence, on terror charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

February 2001 Arrested over plot to bomb Strasbourg Christmas market.

December 2001 Goes on the run but is arrested 10 months later.

April 2008 The Court of Appeal rules that deporting Abu Qatada would breach his human rights.

April 2012 He is arrested as the Government prepares to deport him.

November 2012 Wins his Special Immigration Appeals Commission appeal. Theresa May brands the decision “unsatisfactory”.

December 2012 Ms May wins permission to appeal against the decision.

March 2013 The Home Secretary’s appeal is denied.

April 2013 The Government announces it will appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

May 2013 Abu Qatada’s lawyer says his client would voluntarily return to Jordan if it ratifies a treaty guaranteeing a fair trial.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?