Blow for Theresa May as Abu Qatada released on bail
Theresa May in 'completely uncharted legal waters' as court rejects Jordan extradition
RADICAL Muslim cleric Abu Qatada has won his appeal against extradition to Jordan and will be released on bail tomorrow. Qatada, who was once described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, will reportedly be placed under a 16-hour curfew when he is released from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire.
Home Secretary Theresa May had obtained assurances from Jordan, where Qatada faces trial on terrorism charges, that no evidence obtained under torture would be used against him.
However, at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) hearing, Qatada's legal team argued he could not hope to receive a fair trial. Jordan expert Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards told the court: "In my view I don't believe there is any credible evidence that the state security court has engaged in a significant amount of reform to have any confidence of him having a fair trial."
Siac initially refused the Home Office’s request to appeal its ruling. However, the government is now set to apply to the Court of Appeal.
"We have obtained assurances not just in relation to the treatment of Qatada himself but about the quality of the legal processes that would be followed throughout his trial," said a Home Office spokesperson.
"Indeed, today's ruling found that 'the Jordanian judiciary, like their executive counterparts, are determined to ensure that the appellant will receive, and be seen to receive, a fair retrial'. We will therefore seek leave to appeal the decision."
Jordan's acting information minister Nayef al-Fayez said his government shared Britain’s disappointment.
"We will definitely study this ruling carefully with them to see what steps we can take. We understand there will be an appeal and accordingly we will work with them to be able to bring him back to justice here in Jordan.
"Concerning the fear of a fair trial for him - there were guarantees for the British government on that, but also our constitution and our judicial system guarantees him that."
The BBC's Dominic Casciani said the decision leaves May in "completely unchartered legal waters".
He added: “The decision by Siac means that the legal avenues are finally beginning to narrow - we are now in the end game in the Home Secretary's battle against Abu Qatada.
“This defeat is a huge blow to her and to the government's strategy of doing diplomatic deals with countries accused of abusing human rights.”
May made a statement in the Commons this afternoon in which she said the government "strongly disagreed" with the ruling and would seek leave to appeal.