Home Secretary Theresa May raised the possibility of prosecuting Abu Qatada, an Islamic cleric accused of links to al-Qaeda, in the U.K. after multiple efforts to deport him for trial in his home country of Jordan stalled.
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service “have looked and continue to look at what evidence is available,” she told lawmakers at a meeting of Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee in London today.
Abu Qatada, who denies links to al-Qaeda, was granted a reprieve from deportation in November and later released on bail after a special immigration judge ruled he shouldn’t be extradited to face terrorism charges because it wasn’t clear if Jordanian authorities had obtained evidence through torture. He was re-arrested in March and is being held in Belmarsh prison in southeast London.
Police are looking at material discovered in the cleric’s house in London to see whether it provides evidence that could lead to a prosecution, May told lawmakers. She said yesterday she’s seeking to have the Supreme Court review the ruling blocking deportation.
The battle to remove the 52-year-old from the U.K. to Jordan has seen Abu Qatada in jail for much of the last seven years. May said she is “continuing to work” with the authorities in Jordan to examine “other avenues that could be pursued” leading to his deportation.
Asked to say when the cleric might be deported, she replied, “I can’t put a date on it, and it would be silly for me to try.”
Government lawyers failed to convince the appeals court in March to deport the cleric, whose real name is Mohammed Othman, when a three-judge panel ruled it couldn’t guarantee he would receive a fair trial.
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