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Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada won an appeal Wednesday against a British order to deport him to Jordan, where he has been convicted in absentia on terrorism charges, on the grounds that evidence against him may have been obtained by torture.

By News Wires (text)

A radical Muslim cleric thwarted another effort by Britain to have him deported to Jordan after a court accepted arguments Wednesday that he would face testimony obtained by torture.

Britain wants to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he was convicted in absentia for terror plots in 1999 and 2000. Successive British governments have been trying since 2001 to remove the Islamist cleric, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman.

But the man described by prosecutors as a key al-Qaida operative in Europe, with ties to the late Osama bin Laden, has successfully fought deportation in British and European courts -- and it is not over yet. The British government pledged to fight on, despite the loss in the Court of Appeal.

 “This is not the end of the road, and the government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada,” Britain’s Home Office said in a statement. “We will consider this judgment carefully and plan to seek leave to appeal.”

Britain said it would try to work with Jordan’s government to try to address the concerns -- to seek some sort of guarantee that evidence obtained by torture not be used.

The case involved a decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which handles major terrorism and deportation cases. The commission upheld his challenge to Britain’s decision to send the cleric to Jordan and agreed that there was a real risk that evidence obtained from torture would be used, violating his human rights.

That decision came despite the government’s insistence that it has won assurances from Jordan over how Abu Qatada’s case would be handled.

Britain accuses the cleric of links with Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the U.S. over the Sept. 11 attacks, and with shoe bomber Richard Reid. Recordings of his sermons were found in an apartment used by some of the 9/11 hijackers.


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