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UK: No deal yet on plan to deport cleric to Jordan

UK: No deal yet on plan to deport cleric to Jordan

British Home Secretary Theresa May said Monday that talks in Jordan had not produced a deal aimed at overcoming a European ban on deporting a radical Islamist cleric to the Arab country.
Britain hopes 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.
May is holding talks in Jordan, seeking to strike a deal under which authorities there would pledge not to use evidence gleaned through torture and guarantee the cleric a fair trial.
"Talks today have been positive but we have more work to do in getting the kind of assurances that will allow us to deport (Abu) Qatada once and for all," May told reporters in Jordan. "This case has gone on for over a decade and I want to bring it to a satisfactory end soon."
Prime Minister David Cameron's office confirmed there were no current plans for the leader to travel to Jordan to attempt to push through a deal, though he has telephoned Jordan's King Abdullah II to discuss the case.
The cleric 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.
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 Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-21 16:59 GMT+08:00