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Qatada can be deported, says May
Terror suspect Abu Qatada can be deported to Jordan after the Government received the assurances it needed to ensure his deportation was lawful, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.
Mrs May said the radical cleric "deserves to face justice" in Jordan but warned that successive governments have been trying to deport him for 10 years and it may still take some time before he can be put on a plane.
But Mrs May said: "We now have the material we need to satisfy the courts and continue with deportation."
Mrs May warned any appeal by Qatada could take "many months", but added it would have to be based on "narrow grounds" and the Government has confidence in its "eventual success". She said: "We can soon put Qatada on a plane and get him out of our country for good."
As Mrs May delivered her statement to MPs, Qatada, who was arrested at his London home by UK Border Agency officials on Tuesday morning, appeared at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in central London.
Europe's human rights judges have ruled that Qatada cannot be deported to Jordan without assurances that evidence gained through torture will not be used in his terror trial. Lawyers for the Home Secretary will need to convince the commission that it has secured the assurances before Qatada can be deported.
The earliest he could be deported is April 30, it is understood. But Qatada's legal team could still appeal, possibly even taking the case back to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) before he could be put on a plane in a process which could take months.
He was released from Long Lartin high-security jail in Evesham, Worcestershire, on February 13 after applying for bail following the ECHR ruling. The Strasbourg-based court found that sending Qatada, 51, back without such assurances would be a "flagrant denial of justice".
Qatada, also known as Omar Othman, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and now faces a retrial in his home country. He has also featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers. Since 2001, when fears of the domestic terror threat rose in the aftermath of the attacks, he has challenged, and ultimately thwarted, every attempt by the Government to detain and deport him.
Qatada was later refused bail at the Siac hearing.