x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UK's Cameron 'fed up' with failure to deport Islamic cleric Abu Qatada

UK prime minister David Cameron says he's frustrated by the government's inability to deport an Islamic cleric, Abu Qatada, to Jordan to face terrorism-related charges.

LONDON // UK prime minister David Cameron said he's frustrated by the government's inability to deport an Islamic cleric, Abu Qatada, to Jordan to face terrorism-related charges.

A special immigration appeal court in London ruled yesterday that Mr Qatada, who is accused of links to Al Qaeda, can't be deported because it couldn't be sure that evidence against him was not obtained through torture. The 51-year-old, whose real name is Mohammed Othman, was released on bail today from Long Lartin prison in central England. He will be subject to a 16-hour curfew at a confidential UK address.

"I am completely fed up with the fact that this man is still in our country," Cameron told a news conference in Rome. "We have moved heaven and earth to try and comply with every single dot and comma of every single convention to get him out of the country. It is extremely frustrating and I share the British people's frustration with the situation we find ourselves in."

Home secretary Theresa May yesterday blamed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year that prevented Mr Qatada from being deported on the grounds he risks facing trial using evidence obtained by torture. May told lawmakers that the Strasbourg court was repeatedly making it harder for the government to deport foreign criminals.

Jordan will be "coordinating closely" with the UK on the next steps in their bid to extradite Mr Qatada, the acting information minister, Nayef Al Fayez, told BBC Radio 4's "Today" show.

King Abdullah II of Jordan will visit the UK next week, Cameron's spokesman, Steve Field, told reporters in London.

"I am sure there will be some sort of government meeting," Field said. "They have demonstrated they are very willing to help us with this."

The UK government is "determined to deport him; we strongly disagree with the court ruling, we're going to challenge it, we're going to take it to appeal," deputy prime minister Nick Clegg told ITV's "Daybreak" program. "He doesn't belong here, he shouldn't be in this country, he's a dangerous person."

Mr Qatada was driven away from prison shortly after 11am in a black people-carrier surrounded by camera crews and photographers. He must wear an electronic monitor, isn't allowed to enter any London Underground station and can't use the Internet or a mobile phone under bail conditions imposed on his release from jail and provided by the immigration court.

"The system is really now being made a monkey of," Pauline Neville-Jones, a former security minister, told BBC Radio 4's "Today" program. She said it should be up to the government to deport Mr Qatada.

"I do share the general view, wish it were a widespread view, that actually the executive ought to be able to exercise that power in relation to somebody who is not a British citizen," she said.

"I think our own Supreme Court should be the ultimate judge, and people are saying national security should be put before the interests of the European law," Conservative lawmaker Peter Bone told ITV. Ms May went to Jordan "and got an assurance from the Jordanian government that the evidence that was gained under torture would not be used in this case. These judges have decided they weren't satisfied with that."