Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
14 February 2012
Editorial note: we are currently having difficulty connecting to the internet. Until the problem is resolved, the quality and regularity of our postings may be affected.
We republish below extracts from the Guardian newspaper’s website which give an account of the debate now convulsing political circles in Britain concerning the release from prison last night 13 February 2012 of Abu Qatada.
The interest of this case for Antigone1984 is the fact Abu Qatada that has been held in British gaols for over eight years without charge or trial. Many allegations of the utmost gravity have been made against this man by the British Government and these have received blanket coverage in the media, but no evidence of any crime has been submitted against him in a British court. The detention of Abu Qatada flouts British legal traditions based on the right to a fair trial that date back to the signing of Magna Carta in 1215 AD. The much-vaunted British concern for “fair play” means that a person is deemed innocent until he or she is proven guilty in a court of law. Moreover, the law of Habeas Corpus means that persons suspected of an offence cannot be kept indefinitely in detention without being charged and brought before a judge. These age-old traditions, the cornerstone of English criminal law, have been egregiously disregarded in the case of Abu Qatada.
ABU QATADA RELEASED FROM JAIL
by Alan Travis, Guardian home affairs editor, Monday 13 February 2012
‘Abu Qatada, the radical Islamist cleric, has been released from Long Lartin maximum security prison in Worcestershire on some of the most stringent bail conditions under English law.
They include a 22-hour curfew monitored by an electronic tag that places him under effective house arrest.
Abu Qatada, who the judges accept remains a threat to national security, was being taken to a London address where he will live with his immediate family.
The bail conditions are so stringent that they echo the South African “banning orders” of 30 years ago. They even require Abu Qatada to “disengage himself” after an initial greeting from any genuinely chance encounter in the street. Shopkeepers and bus drivers are explicitly excluded from this provision.
He will be banned from using a mobile phone and the internet and be placed under surveillance by security services during the one hour period twice a day he is allowed to leave the address. He will only be able to move within a tightly drawn geographic area.
The eight-page order setting out the bail conditions includes an outright ban on meeting 27 alleged extremists including Abu Hamza and Babar Ahmad……
The special branch will vet all Abu Qatada’s visitors except for his family and his lawyer. He also faces a ban on leading prayers, giving lectures or providing religious advice or entering any mosque.
The agreed hours of the curfew will mean he will not be able to take his youngest child to school. He will, however, with the approval of the home secretary, be able to get a job or attend a course of academic study or training.
His release came as early signs of progress emerged with the Jordanian authorities to break the deadlock that is preventing Abu Qatada’s removal from Britain.
The release follows a decision last week by the special immigration appeals commission (Siac) that his six and half years in immigration detention without charge pending his deportation could not continue.
The European court of human rights has ruled that the cleric, described by a Spanish judge as Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, cannot be sent back to Jordan while he faces the prospect of a retrial [there] on terrorist offences based on evidence obtained by torture…….
Downing Street said it still wanted to deport Abu Qatada at the earliest opportunity. “We will take all measures necessary to protect the public. We are committed to removing him from the country. We want to see him deported and we are looking at all the options for doing that. I’m not going to go into specifics,” said [Prime Minster] David Cameron’s spokesman.’
BRITISH MINISTER IN JORDAN FOR TALKS
Extracts from an updated article by Alan Travis, Guardian home affairs editor on 14 February 2012
‘Home Office minister James Brokenshire is in Jordan for talks about Abu Qatada, whom the UK wants to deport.
Abu Qatada, alleged to be a dangerous extremist Muslim preacher, was freed from Long Lartin jail on Monday [13 February 2012].
Jordan’s minister for legislative affairs, Ayman Odeh, has said he would not be tortured if he returned to stand trial. Mr Odeh said Abu Qatada would receive a fair trial.
Mr Brokenshire is seeking reassurances from the Jordanian government about Abu Qatada’s treatment if he is sent there.
There is already a “memorandum of understanding” between the UK and Jordan guaranteeing Abu Qatada himself would not be mistreated, but the UK is seeking further assurances.
A judge ended his six-year detention in the UK last week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) blocked his deportation to Jordan. It said evidence obtained by torture might be used against him there.
The European human rights judges said that despite the Jordanian ban on the use of evidence obtained by torture, the systemic use of torture by Jordan’s security services to extract confessions remained “widespread and routine”.
Abu Qatada’s lawyers have already warned that any deportation deal with Jordan would trigger another round of litigation in British courts to test its legality.
The executive director of the human rights group, Cageprisoners Limited, Asim Qureshi, does not believe Abu Qatada could get a fair trial in Jordan. “Jordan is a patently unsafe country to send people. It’s known for systematic violations of human rights,” he said.’