New moves in London and Amman to get Qatada deported

Feb 13, 2012

Extremist cleric must abide by 22-hour curfew and has no access to telephone or computer

AS THE MOMENT approached this afternoon for Abu Qatada to leave Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire after six years' incarceration, diplomatic moves continued to be made in an effort to get the extremist Muslim cleric on a plane to Jordan.

According to the Press Association, the Jordanian legislative affairs minister, Ayman Odeh, said the country had passed a constitutional amendment to ban the use of evidence obtained through torture. It was now working with the British Government to give the European Court of Human Rights the assurances it needed to sanction Qatada's return to his homeland.

"It [the amendment] mentions very expressly that any evidence obtained from torture or a threat of torture should not be admissible before the courts in Jordan," Odeh told Sky News. "We are confident that once we have the chance to make this statement through the diplomatic channels... (it) will be taken into consideration."

David Cameron's official spokesman confirmed today that the government is still seeking to have Qatada, 51, deported to Jordan, where he has been convicted of terror offences in absentia. "We are committed to removing him from the country," the spokesman told The Daily Telegraph. "We want to see him deported. We are looking at all the options for doing that."

In a sign of his determination to deport Abu Qatada, David Cameron called King Abdullah of Jordan last week in a bid to find a diplomatic solution to the situation which has allowed the radical cleric to remain in the UK for
19 years.

The government's inability to deport Qatada has allowed Labour to attack the coalition, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper leading the charge today, saying "it is clear the government has not done all it can to stop Abu Qatada being released from high-security prison".

With a Sunday Times/YouGov poll yesterday showing that seven in ten people wanted Qatada deported, regardless of whether or not he would face a fair trial in Jordan, Cooper's positioning of Labour is seen as a savvy move.

Until he can be released, Qatada, who London mayor Boris Johnson demanded today in his Daily Telegraph column be "given a one-way ticket back [to Jordan], in steerage", will be subjected to a draconian set of bail restrictions.

He will have to obey a 22-hour curfew that will stop him going on the school run with his children. He must also wear an electronic tag and is banned from using the internet or any form of telephone.

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