'Vindication', says Theresa May as Abu Qatada appears in court in Jordan on terrorism charges

The radical cleric will be moved to a high-security prison near the capital Amman after a court appearance to begin his trial for charges of terrorism 

With court proceedings under way against Abu Qatada within just hours of his plane touching down in Jordan, the Government in Britain wasted no time in celebrating the radical cleric’s deportation as the beginning of a fresh assault on what it sees as troublesome human rights legislation.

Greeted by a large convoy of masked anti-terrorism police in Amman on Sunday, the 53-year-old radical cleric was escorted in a 12-vehicle cavalcade to the military State Security Court on the outskirts of the capital.

There, as his family, including his father Mahmoud, waited outside, Abu Qatada – whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman – appeared before the court to face charges relating to an al-Qa’ida inspired plot against an American school in Amman and an alleged attack on Israeli and US tourists. “My son is innocent and I hope the court will set him free,” Abu Qatada’s father told reporters.

Last night he was transferred to the Muwaqar I, in Amman’s south-eastern industrial suburb of Sahab, a state-of-the-art prison with sports facilities and a library, designed to allay British concerns about his treatment.

Prosecutors said he would be detained there for 15 days, pending further questioning.

The father-of-five – dubbed Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe – had been escorted on to a plane at RAF Northolt, west London, under the cover of darkness yesterday morning before his flight back to Jordan.

Clad in robes and a headscarf and flanked by four officers from Scotland Yard’s Extradition Unit, he was photographed taking a last look at the UK out the window as the plane taxied away.

Abu Qatada had frustrated successive governments’ attempts to deport him for almost a decade. Ministers made no secret of their jubilation yesterday at finally ridding themselves of a man who cost taxpayers more than £1.7m to deport.

The case, which stalled when the European Court of Human Rights prevented Qatada’s deportation back to Jordan on the grounds that he would face trial based on evidence obtained under torture, has led to a gaping chasm between Strasbourg and right-wing politicians.

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said that any Tory government would advocate withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights, adding: “A future Conservative government with a majority will make wholesale changes to human rights laws.” Currently Belarus is the only European country not bound by the convention.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said the Government had honoured its vow to rid the country of Abu Qatada, adding: “It is an issue that has made my blood boil that it took so long and was so difficult to deport him, but we have done it – he is back in Jordan, and that is excellent news”.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary who vowed Abu Qatada would be on a plane 15 months ago, said the Government had been “vindicated”.

“We have at last achieved what previous governments, Parliament and the British public have long called for,” she said. “This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country.”

But in the run-down neighbourhood of Amman where his family lives, locals remained supportive of Abu Qatada. “He didn’t participate in any violent act,” said a friend, Marwan Shahedeh.

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
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
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: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions