Radical cleric loses deportation appeal

Radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada has lost his appeal against a Home Office move to deport him to Jordan.

Qatada - also known as Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman - is suspected of being a high-ranking member of al Qaeda and is wanted in Jordan for involvement in a series of terror attacks.

He was convicted of involvement in the attacks in his absence. However, Qatada has also denied claims that he has links with al Qaeda and has insisted that he has never met Osama Bin Laden.

The ruling, made by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac), is of huge significance to the Home Office as it relates to a crucial part of the government's anti-terror policy - an agreement between the British government and countries accused of using torture guaranteeing that deportees will not face being tortured or mistreated.

The agreement, called a Memoranda of Understanding, was signed between the UK government and Jordan in 2005.

During Siac hearings last May, Qatada's lawyers argued that part of the government's case against him was based on evidence extracted by torture.

However, Siac ruled that Qatada faced "no real risk of persecution" if he was deported to Jordan.

Ian Burnett QC, a lawyer for the Home Secretary said that it would be "extraordinary" if Jordan did not comply with the diplomatic assurances of the MOU.

Home Secretary John Reid welcomed the decision and said: "It is our firm belief that these agreements strike the right balance between allowing us to deport individuals who threaten the security of this country and safeguarding the rights of these individuals on their return."


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