Abu Qatada deportation treaty approved
Radical preacher will be flown to Jordan after final ratification, but Theresa May warns there may be more legal challenges.
The government has approved a treaty geared towards ejecting the radical cleric Abu Qatada from the country.
The agreement, announced by the home secretary in April, is intended to allay fears that evidence extracted through torture will be used against the terror suspect at a retrial.
The parliamentary scrutiny process was completed on Friday, leaving a handful of legal steps before the deportation process can begin. Both houses of the Jordanian parliament and King Abdullah have also approved the treaty.
However, Theresa May has previously warned that even when the treaty is fully ratified it will not necessarily mean that Abu Qatada will be on a plane to Jordan within days. The case remains open to legal challenge.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We welcome the approval of the treaty by both the UK and Jordanian parliaments. Our focus remains on seeing Qatada on a plane to Jordan at the earliest opportunity.”
The treaty must be published in the Jordanian government’s official gazette and a number of diplomatic notes must be exchanged before the treaty enters into force. It is understood this will be done by the end of the month.
Last month Abu Qatada unexpectedly volunteered to leave the country as soon as the treaty between the UK and Jordan was ratified by both countries.
The government has been trying to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, for about eight years.
It emerged last week that the fight to remove him from Britain had cost the taxpayer more than £1.7m since 2005.
Abu Qatada is behind bars at London’s Belmarsh prison after breaching a bail condition which restricts use of mobile phones and other communication devices.
The special immigration appeals commission (Siac) heard that a USB stick understood to belong to Abu Qatada’s eldest son contained “jihadist files” made by the “media wing of al-Qaida”.
Abu Qatada is also being investigated by Scotland Yard over suspected extremist material found during a search of his home.