Law Lords back Qatada deportation  BY Dominic Casciani 
 BBC News home affairs 

The Law Lords have ruled that radical cleric Abu Qatada can be deported
from the UK to Jordan where he faces jail for terrorism.  
Qatada, 48, who is one
of Europe's most influential extremists, had alleged that his
conviction in Jordan was based on evidence extracted by torture. 
The home secretary said she was "delighted" at the decision, calling Qatada "a 
truly dangerous individual". 
Qatada's lawyer said she had already lodged an application to appeal. 
Gareth Peirce has submitted an application to the European Court of
Human Rights. Her client cannot be deported until the appeal bid has
been considered. 
The five Law Lords who unanimously backed Qatada's
removal also supported the deportation of two Algerian terrorism
suspects, know as RB and U, whose cases covered similar grounds. 
Influential preacher  
Last year the Court of Appeal blocked Qatada's deportation after
accepting his argument that he had not faced a fair trial in his
absence. 
He was released on bail - but then re-arrested and returned to Belmarsh
high security prison because security officials said they had
intelligence that he was considering fleeing the UK. 
Abu Qatada was first arrested in the wake of the 9/11
attacks amid allegations that he was one of the most influential
Islamist preachers in Europe, playing a critical ideological role. One
judge described him as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe. 
His convictions in Jordan relate to an alleged
conspiracy to bomb hotels in the capital Amman along with allegedly
providing finance and advice for other plots. 
The two Algerian men, who also lost their cases, had
alleged that they faced torture if returned to their home country. They
have been held in jail pending deportation because the Home Office said
they posed a serious threat to national security. 
Ms Smith said the ruling "highlights the threat these individuals pose to our 
nation's security". 
"I'm delighted with the Lords' decision, a decision that agrees with us
that we can remove Abu Qatada, a truly dangerous individual, from the
UK," she said. 
"I have now signed a deportation order which will be
served on him later today. My priority is the safety of this country
and I want him removed as quickly as possible." 
The home secretary said the judgement would "bring other deportations a step 
closer". 
The UK has signed a string of diplomatic agreements with Middle Eastern
and African countries designed to guarantee fair treatment of anyone
deported from the UK on grounds of national security. 
Critics have described these deals as legally worthless
- Tom Porteous, director of Human Rights Watch, told the BBC they were
"flimsy and unenforceable". 
The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner said the
Jordanians were very keen to have Qatada back, but some there were
concerned that his fate could become a complicated political issue
which until now the country has avoided dealing with. 
Torture ruling  
Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, sitting with Lords Hoffmann, Hope,
Brown and Mance, said that while evidence used against Qatada may have
been extracted by torturing another suspect, the issue for the British
courts was whether the cleric could get a fair trial in Jordan,
irrespective of how the evidence had been obtained. 
Lord Phillips said: "The prohibition on receiving
evidence obtained by torture is not primarily because such evidence is
unreliable or because the reception of the evidence will make the trial
unfair. Rather it is because 'the state must stand firm against the
conduct that has produced the evidence'. 
“ States simply cannot pick and choose which people have human rights  ” 
Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International 
"That principle applies to the state in which an attempt is made to
adduce such evidence. It does not require this state, the United
Kingdom, to retain in this country, to the detriment of national
security, a terrorist suspect. What is relevant is the degree of risk
that Mr Othman [Abu Qatada] will suffer a flagrant denial of justice if
he is deported to Jordan." 
In the case of the other men, the lords said, the
Algerian Ministry of Justice has provided the UK with a written
guarantee of fair treatment and trial, including a pledge to respect
their "human dignity .. under all circumstances". 
Human rights group Amnesty International said it was "gravely concerned" about 
the ruling's implications. 
Spokesman Nicola Duckworth said: "No-one should be deported to face a
risk of torture, whatever they might be alleged or suspected to have
done. 
"States simply cannot pick and choose which people have human rights. 
"If these individuals in question are reasonably suspected of having
committed a criminal offence relating to terrorism, it is always open
to the UK authorities to charge them and give them a fair trial." 
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/7896457.stm

Published: 2009/02/18 13:37:50 GMT

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