LONDON, (Reuters) – A radical Muslim cleric won a reprieve from deportation from Britain to face terrorism charges in Jordan after a London court said on Monday it was not satisfied he would receive a fair trial in the Middle East state.
The decision to uphold a last-minute appeal from Abu Qatada, a Jordanian cleric of Palestinian origin, is a blow to Britain, which has being trying for a decade to remove him.
The court ruled there was a “real risk” that evidence obtained by torture from two other men by could be used against him in a Jordanian court.
The ruling, delivered at a special court that deals with security cases, said British interior minister Theresa May had been wrong not to revoke an earlier deportation ruling against Qatada, and allowed his appeal.
Qatada, once described by a Spanish judge as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, has been in and out of jail in Britain since his arrest in 2002, spending seven years in detention without charge.
May’s department said in a statement it strongly disagreed with the ruling and would seek leave to appeal.