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November 14 2012 4 14 /11 /November /2012 05:07

Abu Qatada release: Cameron 'fed up'

Abu Qatada arrives back at his home in London
Abu Qatada is back at his home in London

Prime Minister David Cameron says he is "completely fed up" about the release on bail of Abu Qatada after the Muslim cleric won his deportation appeal.


Abu Qatada was earlier freed from prison after a UK court ruled he might not get a fair trial if deported to Jordan to face bomb plot charges.


Mr Cameron said ministers had "moved heaven and earth" to try to deport him and would continue to do so.

Labour said people would be "horrified" and urged ministers to act quickly.


Mr Cameron told BBC News: "I am completely fed up with the fact this man is still at large in our country, he has no right to be there, we believe he's a threat to our country


"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 this country.


"It's extremely frustrating and I share the British people's frustration at the situation we find ourselves in," Mr Cameron said.

He said that, as well an appeal, the government would "do everything we can to make sure that we do have the power to expel and deport people from our country who have no right to be there and mean us harm".


'Politically unthinkable'

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said Home Office lawyers had 21 days to find a point of law to take to the Court of Appeal.

Abu Qatada has lived in the UK for almost 20 years - and he might be here a few more yet because the legal roadblock on deportation is very difficult to remove.


Judges say there is a real risk that the preacher's retrial in Jordan would be unfair because it would include incriminating statements made by men who were tortured by the secret police.


They want to see either an unambiguous change to Jordan's criminal court code to exclude such material, or a ruling by its higher courts to the same effect.


So there is little prospect of Abu Qatada being deported unless the home secretary can convince Jordan to change or convince the UK's Court of Appeal that Siac got the law wrong.


If either of those routes were successful - and that's a very big "if" - it wouldn't end there. The cleric could ask the European Court of Human Rights to examine what Jordan is saying - something that could take years.


If the appeal was knocked out, Abu Qatada's stringent bail conditions would "simply fall away", he said, leaving the home secretary with a stark choice.


Theresa May could do the "politically unthinkable" and release Abu Qatada or she could impose a new Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPim) control order which itself could be subject to legal challenge.


Faced with this difficult problem, there would also be furious diplomatic efforts to beef up assurances from the Jordanian government, our correspondent added.


Abu Qatada - whose real name is Omar Othman - arrived back at his home in London earlier after he was released from Long Lartin prison, in Worcestershire. He has spent most of the last 10 years in custody.


Earlier this year, judges at the European Court in Strasbourg ruled the cleric would not face ill-treatment if returned to Jordan, citing assurances outlined in a UK-Jordan agreement.


But the judge did not believe he would get a fair trial because a Jordanian court could use evidence against Abu Qatada that had been obtained from the torture of others.


On Monday, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission chairman Mr Justice Mitting ruled he was not satisfied Abu Qatada would be tried fairly.


Judges say there is a real risk that the preacher's retrial in Jordan would be unfair because it would include incriminating statements made by men who were tortured by the secret police.

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