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Britain's Abu Qatada Appeal Unanimously Rejected - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this file picture taken on November 13, 2012 terror suspect Abu Qatada arrives at his home in northwest London, after he was released from prison. (AFP Photo)

In this file picture taken on November 13, 2012 terror suspect Abu Qatada arrives at his home in northwest London , after he was released from prison. (AFP Photo)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The latest attempt by the British government to deport the controversial Jordanian-born cleric Abu Qatada failed today after a ruling by the country’s Court of Appeal.

The court’s three judges unanimously rejected an appeal from British Home Secretary Theresa May against an earlier legal ruling that the radical Islamist preacher could not be returned to Jordan.

In their ruling, the judges said that the Special Immigration Appeals Commission had not erred in law last November when it blocked Abu Qatada’s deportation.

They said, “Torture is universally abhorred as an evil. A state cannot expel a person to another state where there is a real risk he will be tried on the basis of evidence which there is a real possibility may have been obtained by torture.”

Abu Qatada was convicted in absentia by a Jordanian court of involvement in a 1998 bombing. He is now facing a re-trial on the same charges.

The UK has sought promises from the Jordanian government that legal proceedings against Abu Qatada would be fair and transparent, should he be returned to the country.

During the hearing of the latest case earlier this month, James Eadie QC, acting for the home secretary, said that Jordan would do everything possible to ensure that any trial was “fair and seen to be so,” and cited the fact that torture and statements obtained under duress are illegal in Jordan.

However, the appeals court said that the commission was correct to rule that there was “a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice.”

In a statement issued in response to the ruling, a Home Office spokesman said, “This is not the end of the road, and the Government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada.”

The spokesman added that the Home Office plans to study the Court of Appeal’s judgment and launch another appeal, and that “in the meantime we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing deportation.”

Abu Qatada is currently imprisoned for breaches of immigration law. After today’s ruling, he is free to apply to be released, given that it is now unlikely that he will be deported in the immediate future.