LONDON (AP) — Radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada on Monday won his appeal against deportation from Britain to Jordan to face terrorism charges.
The decision represents a setback to the British government, which has been trying to get Abu Qatada removed from British soil for years.
Home Office officials say they strongly disagree with the ruling and planned to appeal.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission Monday blocked the deportation, saying it was not convinced by the government’s assurances that no evidence obtained through torture would be used against Abu Qatada in Jordan.
The judges said that the British government “has not satisfied us that …there is no real risk” that statements obtained under torture would not be used at a trial of the suspected terrorist in Jordan.
The Palestinian-born Jordanian cleric, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, has been convicted in absentia in Jordan over bomb plots and faces retrial if extradited.
Britain has signed an agreement with Jordan which it says ensures the preacher will not face ill-treatment, but Abu Qatada’s lawyers convinced the judges the deal does not offer sufficient protection.
Abu Qatada, who has been described in British and Spanish courts as a senior al-Qaida figure in Europe with close ties to the late Osama bin Laden, has fought attempts to extradite him from Britain since 2001. He is currently in prison.
Earlier this year, he was denied permission to take his case to a European court, but he triumphed Monday in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, a semi-secret court that handles deportation and national security cases.
Home Secretary Theresa May was expected to speak in Parliament on the setback Monday afternoon.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.