Abu Qatada, controversial radical cleric once dubbed Osama bin Laden’s “right hand man in Europe”, on Monday won an appeal against his deportation to Jordan where he faces terror charges, dealing a blow to the British government’s bid to deport him on grounds that he poses a threat to security.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) upheld Qatada’s argument that he would not get a fair trial in Jordan despite Amman’s assurances that evidence obtained through torture would not be used against him. The government said it would appeal.
The ruling came barely months after the government claimed that the decks had been cleared for deportation after assurances from Jordan that he would get a fair trial.
“We can soon put Qatada on a plane and get him out of our country for good,” the Home Secretary Theresa May told Parliament in April. She had said an agreement had been reached whereby Qatada could be deported “under the full compliance of the law”. Even a date for his deportation on or around April 30 was set. Monday’s ruling was described by legal experts as “very significant” and a “huge blow” to the Home Secretary.
The Home Office insisted that it was satisfied with the Jordan’s assurance.
“We have obtained assurances not just in relation to the treatment of Qatada himself but about the quality of the legal processes that would be followed throughout his trial”, it said.
Qatada (51), whose real name is Omar Othman, fled to Britain in 1993 after claiming he was tortured by Jordanian authorities. He was convicted in absentia for his alleged involvement in two major terrorism plots in Jordan but he claimed that the convictions were based on evidence obtained by torturing his co-defendants.