World Bulletin/News Desk
Britain has signed a new legal treaty with Jordan in the hope of being able to deport a cleric accused of being Osama bin Laden's "right-hand man in Europe" later this year, the interior minister said on Wednesday.
The British government has for years been unable to deport Abu Qatada back to his native Jordan, where he is wanted on many charges, because judges have said evidence obtained through torture could be used against him.
The saga has been embarrassing for the Conservative-led government, which wants to appear tough on security and immigration, and in particular for Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May, who has been tipped as a future party leader.
"I have signed a comprehensive mutual legal assistance agreement with Jordan," May told parliament, a day after a court rejected the government's latest appeal of a judicial decision to block Abu Qatada's extradition to Jordan.
"The agreement also includes a number of fair trial guarantees ... I believe these guarantees will provide the courts with the assurance that Qatada will not face evidence that might have been obtained by torture."
The treaty is expected to be ratified by the Jordanian and British parliaments by the end of June, but May said it could still take several months to secure Abu Qatada's deportation.
The use of evidence obtained through torture would breach the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Britain is a signatory.
A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday Britain was looking at "every option" to deport the Jordanian, and did not rule out withdrawing from the convention.
Such a move would delight Cameron's increasingly anti-Europe centre-right Conservative Party, but would dismay his left-leaning pro-Europe Liberal Democrat junior partners in government. It would also anger human rights campaigners.
Last Mod: 24 Nisan 2013, 17:21