Jordan insists it will not use torture evidence for Qatada

Home Office minister in Amman for talks on deporting 'Bin Laden's ambassador in Europe'
  • @robhastings

The Jordanian government insisted last night that the extremist cleric Abu Qatada would receive a fair trial if he was deported back to his native country to face terrorism charges.

The assurance came as the Home Office minister, James Brokenshire, arrived in Amman for talks about Qatada's fate. The radical preacher, once described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's ambassador in Europe, was freed from a high-security prison on Monday evening after an immigration judge granted him bail.

That followed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that he should not be deported to Jordan because he risks being tried on evidence obtained by torture. Qatada is living in north London under strict bail terms as Britain works to secure assurances that he will not face such evidence if he is returned.

Jordan's Legislative Affairs Minister, Ayman Odeh, told Mr Brokenshire that his government had passed legislation last September preventing such evidence being used. "Any evidence obtained from torture or the threat of torture should not be admissible before the courts in Jordan," Mr Odeh told Sky News. "We are confident that once we have the chance to make these statements through the diplomatic channels to the relevant court, they will be taken into consideration."

Officials in Amman have signalled that they themselves may challenge the decision by the European Court of Human Rights.

The talks were held as Qatada spent his first full day out of prison, having been released from Long Larton jail in Worcestershire. A control order prohibits him from leaving his house for more than one hour twice a day, and he has been fitted with an electronic tag. He has also been banned from meeting 27 named people, using the internet or a mobile phone, publishing any form of statement, attending a mosque or leading prayers.

These conditions will be lifted after three months if Britain cannot demonstrate it is making headway in its attempts to deport Qatada, who spent six-and-a-half years in prison fighting his removal before being released on Monday night.

Friends of Qatada have said he expects to be deported within seven days, it was reported yesterday, adding he would accept removal if Jordan's King promises he will not be tortured. His mother, Aisha Othman, who lives in Jordan, has also urged him to return.