Last updated: 5 March, 2012

British minister discusses Abu Qatada in Jordan

Britain’s interior minister held talks with her Jordanian counterpart Monday on the extradition of Abu Qatada, once dubbed an aide of Osama bin Laden, who faces terror charges in Jordan, an official said.

Home Secretary Theresa May and Interior Minister Mohammad Raud “discussed the issue of Abu Qatada,” the British embassy official told AFP.

“British and Jordanian officials continue to discuss the matter. It is a complicated and sensitive legal issue,” said the official, without elaborating.

May announced her visit to Jordan last month, saying London and Amman were “pursuing all options with regard to (Abu Qatad’s) deportation.”

Abu Qatada, whom a Spanish judge once labelled the right-hand man of slain Al-Qaeda chief bin Laden, was convicted in Jordan in his absence of involvement in terror attacks in 1998 and faces a retrial on his return.

Britain has been trying to extradite the 51-year-old radical Islamist cleric for the past six years, claiming he is a serious risk to national security, but its efforts have been thwarted on human rights grounds.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled in January that Britain cannot deport Abu Qatada because evidence used against him in any trial in Jordan may have been obtained through torture.

Amman said in February it has given assurances to London that Abu Qatada will get a “fair and transparent” trial if London extradites him to the kingdom.

Jordan’s state-run Petra news agency, meanwhile, said that May “is keen to boost cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the field of intelligence exchange.”

Petra made no mention of talks between the British and Jordanian ministers on the matter of Abu Qatada.