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UK: Minister in Jordan over radical preacher case

UK: Minister in Jordan over radical preacher case

British Home Secretary Theresa May was holding talks 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-Qaida 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 finalize 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.
He was released in 2005 when the unpopular law was overturned, but was kept under surveillance and arrested again within months and held pending deportation to Jordan.
The cleric was freed last month on strict bail conditions, including a curfew _ though the bail conditions expire in three months, meaning British officials are eager to find a solution.
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Associated Press writer Gregory Katz contributed to this report


Updated : 2021-07-31 07:16 GMT+08:00