UK minister in Jordan to discuss cleric’s deportation
LONDON BRITISH Home Minister Theresa May was holding talks on Monday in Jordan aimed at overcoming a European ban on deporting a radical Islamist cleric to the Arab country.
Britain wants to deport Abu Qatada, a Palestinian- Jordanian preacher described in both Spanish and British courts as a leading Al Qaeda figure in Europe and a threat to national security.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in January that Abu Qatada cannot be sent back to Jordan, because of a risk that evidence obtained through torture would be used against him if he is put on trial there.
He has previously been convicted in his absence in Jordan of terrorist offenses related to two alleged bomb plots in 1999 and 2000, and would face a retrial if deported from Britain.
May is seeking to strike a deal with Jordan under which authorities would pledge not to use evidence gleaned through torture and guarantee the cleric a fair trial.
Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field told reporters that May was holding talks, following up a visit to the kingdom last month by security minister James Brokenshire.
“We are still looking at all the options” in the hope of removing Abu Qatada from Britain, Field said.
He confirmed that there were no current plans for Cameron to travel to Jordan to attempt to finalise a deal, though the British leader has telephoned Jordan’s King Abdullah II to discuss the case.
Abu Qatada spent six years in jail in Britain, though he has never been charged with any crime. He was detained in 2002 under anti-terrorism laws that at the time allowed suspected terrorists to be jailed without charge.