UK signs treaty with Jordan to deport Qatada
London: Britain has signed a deal with Jordan to ensure deportation of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada to face terrorism charges in his home country.
The mutual assistance treaty has guarantees on fair trials bound within it, Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs in the House of Commons.
"I have signed a comprehensive mutual legal assistance agreement with Jordan," the minister said in Parliament, a day after a Court of Appeal denied the Home Office permission to take Qatada's deportation case to the Supreme Court.
"The agreement also includes a number of fair trial guarantees. These would apply to anyone being deported from either country," May said.
"I believe these guarantees will provide the courts with the assurance that Qatada will not face evidence that might have been obtained by torture, in a retrial in Jordan," she added.
However, the minister admitted that even after ratification of the agreement by both countries, Qatada will still be able to launch a legal appeal, which means it may be months before the radical cleric is deported.
"In the meantime, I believe Abu Qatada should remain behind bars," May said.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), which adjudicates on national security-related deportations, had ruled last year that the Islamic preacher should not be removed from the UK because his retrial could be tainted by evidence obtained by torturing the cleric's former co-defendants.
Qatada has been convicted over terrorism charges in absentia in Jordan.
The UK government has been arguing that it had obtained fresh assurances that would guarantee the fair treatment of the preacher on his return to Amman.
The Supreme Court can reconsider the Court of Appeal's latest decision if the judges are convinced there is a "point of law of general public importance".
Meanwhile, Downing Street is also reportedly considering a temporary withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights in order to allow for Qatada to be removed from the country.
Asked whether this course of action was on the table, Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman told reporters: "We are going to explore every option".