Qatada deported from Britain
Radical cleric Abu Qatada was deported from Britain in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Palestinian-Jordanian cleric’s plane left from RAF Northolt at 2:46 am BST. The plane was headed for his home country of Jordan where he will face terrorism charges.
Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed Qatada’s deportation and said that he was “delighted that his removal has been achieved”.
The UK has been battling to deport Qatada for the last eight years. The decision was finally agreed after the UK and Jordan signed a 24-page mutual legal treaty agreeing that evidence obtained through torture would not be used against him.
The 53-year-old radical, who has not been back home for last 20 years, was being held at Belmarsh prison in south-east London when a convoy of three police vehicles left at midnight.
Commenting on Qatada’s expulsion from Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May stated: “I am glad that this government’s determination to see him on a plane has been vindicated and that we have at last achieved what previous governments, Parliament and the British public have long called for.
“Britain needs to ensure that in future we can deport people more quickly.”
She added: “I am also clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport. We are taking steps − including through the new Immigration Bill − to put this right.”
Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, originally fled the Middle East and arrived in the UK in 1993 and was granted asylum the following year. He was first arrested over alleged terror connections in 2001 and detained under anti-terrorism laws in 2002.
He was then told by the British authorities that he would be deported to Jordan, where he had been convinced in his absence of alleged involvement in a plot to target Americans and Israeli tourists during country’s millennium celebrations.
In February 2007 Qatada lost his appeal against deportation at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. He then appealed to Higher Courts on the grounds that evidence extracted through torture would be used against him in Jordan, where he faces a retrial for plotting bomb attacks.
However, in May 2013 he agreed to drop his legal challenge and accepted that his right to a fair trial in Jordan was now protected by the new treaty signed between Jordan and the UK.