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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
A bartender serves beers
news
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Life and Style
The finale at Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015
fashion
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: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?