Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Qatada deportation edges closer

A treaty with Jordan aimed at ejecting radical cleric Abu Qatada from the UK has taken another step forward

A treaty geared towards ejecting radical cleric Abu Qatada from the country has moved another step towards full ratification.

The agreement, which aims to allay fears that evidence extracted through torture will be used against the terror suspect at a retrial, has now been published in the Jordanian government's official gazette - leaving just a handful of legal moves before the deportation process can begin.

In May Qatada unexpectedly volunteered to leave the country as soon as the treaty is ratified by both countries.

Security minister James Brokenshire said: "The publication of the Treaty in the Jordanian Official Gazette is welcome. While further steps remain, our focus is on seeing Abu Qatada on a plane to Jordan at the earliest opportunity."

The publication of the treaty in the gazette comes after both houses of the Jordanian parliament and the country's king approved the treaty, while the UK parliamentary scrutiny process has also been completed.

However, Home Secretary Theresa May previously warned that, even when the treaty is fully ratified, it will not necessarily mean that Qatada will be on a plane to Jordan within days. The case remains open to legal challenge.

The Government has been trying to deport Qatada to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, for about eight years.

The fight to remove him from Britain has cost the taxpayer more than £1.7 million since 2005.

Qatada is behind bars in London's Belmarsh prison after breaching a bail condition which restricts use of mobile phones and other communication devices.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) previously heard that a USB stick understood to belong to Qatada's eldest son contained ''jihadist files'' made by the ''media wing of al Qaida''.

The terror suspect is also being investigated by Scotland Yard over suspected extremist material found during the search of his home.

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