Britain Resumes Efforts to Deport Radical Cleric

Posted April 17th, 2012 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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British authorities have arrested a radical Islamist cleric, accused of ties to late al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, in an effort to deport him to Jordan.

Britain has attempted to extradite Jordanian preacher Abu Qatada since 2005, arguing that he poses a risk to national security. Jordan has convicted Qatada in absentia of terrorism charges related to two bomb plots.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled in January that he could not be deported because evidence used against him may have been obtained using torture.

British Home Secretary Teresa May told Parliament she received new assurances from Jordan that torture evidence would not be used against Qatada. May, who visited Jordan last month said she believed the assurance would pave the way to satisfying the courts allowing the deportation to proceed.

“For more than 10 years successive governments have sought to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, because of the serious risk he poses to our national security. He has a long-standing association with al Qaida, he has been linked to several terrorist plots, and he has been found guilty in absentia in Jordan of terrorist offences.”

Jordan's Justice Minister Ibrahim al-Jazi said Qatada will be entitled to a new trial once extradited.

“There was a judgement which was issued against him in absentia. This requires, if he arrives to Jordan, that he will face a full trial. And this full trial will be before a civilian panel within the state security court.”

British officials have described Qatada as former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's top European deputy.

He arrived in Britain in the 1990s. He has been in and out of custody since 2001 after being detained under Britain's anti-terrorism laws.