Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Qatada deportation talks continue

Abu Qatada has been freed from prison but must abide by tight bail conditions

A radical cleric who poses a serious risk to the UK's national security is free to walk the streets as talks continue on deporting him as soon as possible.

Abu Qatada was released under some of the toughest conditions imposed since the September 11 terror attacks and is free to leave his home for just two hours a day.

His release from Long Lartin high-security jail in Evesham, Worcestershire, on Monday night came as Home Office Minister James Brokenshire arrived in Jordan for talks with government officials in the capital Amman.

Qatada was let out after applying for bail when human rights judges in Europe ruled he could not be deported without assurances from Jordan that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.

Home Secretary Theresa May now has just three months to show the Government is making significant progress in securing those assurances or risk Qatada, once described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, being freed from his bail conditions.

Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron told King Abdullah of the "frustrating and difficult" position Britain was in over its efforts to deport the Islamist radical.

However Ayman Odeh, the Jordanian legislative affairs minister, said the country had passed a constitutional amendment in September to ban the use of evidence obtained through torture.

"We are confident that once we have the chance to make this statement through the diplomatic channels... (it) will be taken into consideration," he told Sky News. "We are now making the necessary arrangements to do such assurances through the British government. Very soon something will be done for this purpose."

Qatada's mother Aisha Othman has also called for the cleric to be sent back to Jordan.

"We want him home now," she told the Daily Mail, adding: "I don't know why the British keep him. There is no good reason."

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