David Cameron speaks to King Abdullah over Abu Qatada trial


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Indy Politics

Prime Minister David Cameron spoke with King Abdullah of Jordan today about Britain's efforts to deport Islamist radical Abu Qatada to stand trial in the country.

Downing Street said the phone conversation took place during Mr Cameron's visit to Sweden, but there was no immediate detail available on how the discussion went.

The Prime Minister said yesterday it was "completely unacceptable" that the UK is unable to return Qatada to Jordan because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that he must not be sent back if it might lead to him being tried with evidence obtained under torture.

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.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire is to fly to Jordanian capital Amman next week to try to secure assurances to satisfy the ECHR that the Middle Eastern state will not use evidence gathered by the use of torture in any trial of Qatada.

Mr Cameron yesterday told MPs that Qatada "should have been deported years ago" and promised to work with the Jordanians to clear remaining hurdles to his removal.

"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," the PM said yesterday.

"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.