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Video: Osama's 'right-hand man' faces new call for deportation

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Abu Qatada

Abu Qatada

Abu Qatada

BRITISH Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday launched a fresh attempt to expel the radical preacher Abu Qatada from Britain.

She said his deportation would be legal given new assurances from Jordan about his treatment there.

Successive governments have tried for 10 years to return Qatada, who has been described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, to his homeland.

But his removal has been repeatedly blocked because of fears he will be ill-treated there.

To the anger of the British government, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled against Qatada's deportation in January, stating that sending him back to Jordan without assurances allegations obtained by torture would not be used against him would be a "flagrant denial of justice".

The home secretary, who visited Jordan this month, told MPs she believed she had now received the necessary assurances.

She said: "We now have the material we need to satisfy the courts and continue with deportation."

Qatada was arrested at his London home by UK Border Agency officials yesterday and appeared before a hearing of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

He was back behind bars last night, having been refused bail, despite his lawyers arguing that the deal with Jordan changed little.

The earliest he can be removed from Britain is April 30, but he is expected to launch a new legal challenge to his deportation that will delay deportation beyond that date.

Ms May's announcement came as the deadline for the British government to appeal the ECHR's January ruling lapsed. It is believed the government decided to seek a deal with Jordan, rather than go back to Strasbourg, because of the potential implications for the UK's ability to deport other international terror suspects having sought diplomatic assurances about their treatment if it lost an appeal.

Success

Ms May acknowledged that an appeal by Qatada (51), whose lawyers could take the case back to the ECHR, could take "many months". But she insisted the government was confident of success in the legal wrangle.

She said she and David Cameron had had talks with King Abdullah of Jordan and his officials to secure the assurances required by the courts.

"The result is we now have the material we need to satisfy the courts and to resume deportation," she said.

Lawyers for the home secretary will now need to convince the ECHR that such a guarantee is now in place. Qatada had been released from Long Lartin high-security jail in Evesham, Worcestershire, on February 13 after applying for bail following the ECHR ruling.

Qatada, also known as Omar Othman, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and now faces a retrial in the country. He has also featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

Irish Independent