Abu Qatada: The saga continues

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Once again the door to extradition is edging open. A recent treaty between the UK and Jordan, a condition that had previously been lacking, may well be the final piece in the extradition jigsaw. It’s worth bearing in mind that the threat of Jordanian torture and religious persecution was the reason Qatada was granted asylum here in UK back in 1994.

I’m uncomfortable with presuming guilt. All people, however unpopular, should be presumed to be innocent unless (not ‘until’) proven guilty. However, as the Jordanians repeatedly argue, Qatada has already been convicted in court, admittedly in his absence.

In 1999 this notorious cleric, widely believed to have significant links with Islamist terrorist groups, was convicted to life imprisonment with hard labour for a string of terrorist offences. However the use of evidence thought to have been extracted through torture has cast doubt on his conviction. Nevertheless it seems likely that Abu Qatada really does have some serious charges to answer.

Mr. Justice Collins of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) said that Abu Qatada was “heavily involved, indeed was at the centre in the United Kingdom of terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda. He is a truly dangerous individual.”

The new treaty guarantees fair treatment and so there appears to be a green light for Abu Qatada’s extradition. However we have been here before. Let’s wait and see what actually happens.

Jordan is expected to make another formal request for extradition shortly. Following that formalities are expected to proceed fairly swiftly.

That sounds good to me.

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