Britain considers temporary leave from human rights convention

April 24, 2013 at 10:19 AM
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LONDON, April 24 (UPI) -- Britain is investigating whether it can temporarily withdraw from Europe's human rights convention while it tries to deport a radical cleric, officials said.

Officials within Prime Minister David Cameron's office confirmed that the temporary action was discussed Tuesday by Cameron and senior officials as Britain tries to deport radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

"The prime minister met with the home secretary, the justice secretary and the attorney general yesterday to discuss the case," a Cameron spokesman said.

Qatada, once described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, is wanted on terrorism charges in Jordan.

Home Secretary Theresa May, meanwhile, was preparing to address parliamentary questions about her legal strategy to deport Qatada, the key figure in al-Qaida-related terror activity in Britain.

May's statement is expected to include information on diplomatic attempts to secure assurances from Jordanian officials that Qatada will not face a trial based on torture-obtained evidence if he is deported from Britain.

The Judicial Office recently confirmed May suffered a setback with a court of appeal rebuffing her attempt to take the case to Britain's supreme court.

The Guardian said she is expected to try her final legal option -- appealing directly to Britain's highest court -- to try to overturn last month's appeals court ruling that Qatada could not be returned to Jordan when a high risk he would face a trial based on torture-obtained evidence remained.

May confirmed last week that Qatada, held in Belmarsh prison for violation conditions of his bail, still could face prosecution in Britain.

"He was arrested for breaching his bail conditions, and obviously consideration is being given in looking at the material that was discovered to see whether that leads to prosecution," May told lawmakers.

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