LONDON, UK – British Home Secretary Theresa May has said talks with senior officials in Jordan over the deportation of the radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada from the UK have been “positive.”
However, May is seeking further assurances that no evidence obtained through torture will be used against the preacher should he be sent back to Jordan, where he faces terrorism charges related to two alleged bomb plots in 1999 and 2000.
The UK government says Qatada, long accused of being one of the UK’s most dangerous extremist preachers and a leading Al Qaeda figure in Europe, poses a threat to national security.
Following a January 17 decision by the European Court of Human Rights blocking his deportation to Jordan, Qatada was released from a west England prison last month on strict bail conditions after spending six years in jail. He has never been charged with an offence in the UK.
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May began talks in Jordan’s capital, Amman, on Monday, and is expected to remain in the country until Wednesday, The Guardian reports. She hopes to make enough progress in the discussions to at least return Qatada to a maximum security prison pending his deportation to Jordan.
Speaking in Amman on Monday, May said Jordan had made “significant human rights advances,” but that they had not been recognized by the European Court of Human Rights, according to the BBC.
“We and the Jordanian government will continue to work together to progress this case… talks today have been positive but we have more work to do in getting the kind of assurances that will allow us to deport Qatada once and for all,” she said.
“This case has gone on for over decade and I want to bring it to a satisfactory end soon,” May added.
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May’s visit comes after Security Minister James Brokenshire led discussions with the Jordanian justice minister in Amman last month. Ayman Odeh, Jordan’s legislative affairs minister, has said his country passed a constitutional amendment in September banning the use of evidence obtained via torture.
May is under heavy pressure to secure a deal with the Jordanian authorities. According to The Daily Telegraph, Qatada’s bail conditions will be lifted after three months if the UK government fails to show significant progress is being made in talks on his deportation.
The preacher was released from prison in February under some of the toughest conditions imposed since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
He can leave his London home for just two one-hour periods each day, and cannot talk to anyone who has not been vetted by the security services, according to The Independent. Qatada is also banned from visiting mosques, leading prayers, preaching or lecturing.
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