UK signs deal with Jordan to expel Abu Qatada
Britain has signed a new legal treaty with Jordan in the hope of being able to deport a cleric accused of being Osama bin Laden’s “right-hand man in Europe” later this year, the interior minister has said.
The British government has for years been unable to deport Abu Qatada back to his native Jordan, where he is wanted on
terrorism charges, because judges have said evidence obtained through torture could be used against him.
“I have signed a comprehensive mutual legal assistance agreement with Jordan,” Home Secretary Theresa May told parliament on Wednesday, a day after a court rejected the government’s latest appeal of a judicial decision to block Abu Qatada’s extradition to Jordan.
“The agreement also includes a number of fair trial guarantees ... I believe these guarantees will provide the courts with the assurance that Qatada will not face evidence that might have been obtained by torture.”
The new treaty is expected to be ratified by the Jordanian and British parliaments by the end of June, but May said it could still take several months to secure Abu Qatada’s deportation.
The case has been embarrassing for the Conservative-led government, which wants to appear tough on security and immigration, and in particular for May, who has been tipped as a future party leader.