Islamist terror suspect Abu Qatada will voluntarily return to Jordan if a treaty with Britain that forbids the use of evidence obtained by torture in legal cases is ratified by the Jordanian parliament, his lawyer said on Friday.
Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald gave the pledge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in London, which is hearing a bid by the radical preacher against his detention for breaching his bail conditions.
British Home Secretary Theresa May announced the new treaty on April 24 in London’s latest bid to deport Abu Qatada – whose real name is Omar Mohammed Othman – after a 12-year legal battle.
“If, and when, the Jordanian parliament ratifies the treaty, Mr. Othman will voluntarily return to Jordan,” Fitzgerald told the tribunal.
There was no immediate word from Jordan on the statement by Abu Qatada’s lawyers.
May told parliament at the time that the agreement contained “fair trial guarantees” that will “provide the courts with the assurance that Qatada will not face evidence that might have been obtained by torture in a retrial in Jordan.”
She unveiled the treaty just days after Britain’s Court of Appeal refused her permission to challenge its ruling that Abu Qatada could not be sent back to Jordan due to human rights concerns.
May said that the government may pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights if it could not deport Abu Qatada by other means.
The 52-year-old cleric has been resident in Britain since he claimed asylum in 1993.
A judge in Spain once branded him Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, even though Abu Qatada denies ever meeting the late Al-Qaeda leader.
The cleric was convicted in Jordan of terrorism charges in absentia, and he is likely to face a retrial if he is returned.
The European Court of Human Rights originally blocked Abu Qatada’s deportation due to fears that evidence obtained through torture would be used against him in the new trial – but the court then backtracked in May 2012 and said that Britain could expel him.
SIAC ruled again in November that Abu Qatada could not be sent back because of the concerns about torture, and the Court of Appeal upheld that decision last month.
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