The controversial cleric Abu Qatada has won another
eleventh hour stay on his deportation to Jordan after an appeal ruled
the Home Secretary was wrong to accept assurances torture evidence would not be
used against him.
Mr Justice Mitting, Siac's president, said he was "minded" to release Qatada on bail but was considering arguments from Government lawyers before making a final decision.
The Home Office, which had promised to remove the radical preacher as quickly as possible this summer, reacted angrily to the decision of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) and said it would be appealing.
The 52-year-old – also known as Omar Mahmoud Othman and once described as Osama bin Laden’s right hand man in Europe - has been detained for seven years, fighting extradition to his native Jordan where he was convicted in his absence of involvement in terror attacks and faces a retrial.
Siac said it upheld his appeal on the grounds that he would not get a fair trial. In January judges at the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he could be sent back to Jordan with diplomatic assurances but he could not be deported while "there remains a real risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him".
Home Secretary Theresa May said she had been given assurances by Jordan that no evidence gained through torture would be used against him. But the Siac judges ruled that they were not satisfied by the assurances given by Jordan and therefore Mrs May was wrong to refuse to revoke his deportation order.
A Home Office spokesman said: "The Government strongly disagrees with this ruling. We have obtained assurances not just in relation to the treatment of Qatada himself, but about the quality of the legal processes that would be followed throughout his trial.
"Indeed, today's ruling found that 'the Jordanian judiciary, like their executive counterparts, are determined to ensure that the appellant will receive, and be seen to receive, a fair retrial'.
"We will therefore seek leave to appeal today's decision."
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