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Jordan MPs approve extradition deal with Britain


Jordan's parliament has approved an agreement with Britain on extraditing suspects wanted by Amman, including radical cleric Abu Qatada who has resisted extradition for the past decade, an MP said Wednesday.

"Parliament on Tuesday approved a treaty with Britain to help Jordan extradite suspects from Britain," deputy house speaker Khalil Attieh told AFP. "The agreement does not specifically mention Abu Qatada but it includes him and others."

The accord needs King Abdullah II's approval before it becomes a law.

Abu Qatada has been in and out of British prisons since 2002 as he fights successive government attempts to deport him to Jordan, where he has been convicted of terror charges in his absence.

But on May 10, the cleric vowed to return to Jordan voluntarily if its parliament ratifies a treaty barring the use of evidence obtained by torture.

A Spanish judge once branded Abu Qatada the right-hand man in Europe of Osama bin Laden, although Abu Qatada denies ever having met the late Al-Qaeda leader.

The 52-year-old cleric, who has been resident in Britain since claiming asylum in 1993, is likely to face a retrial if he is returned to Jordan.

On April 24, British Home Secretary Theresa May announced that London has signed a legal treaty with Amman giving guarantees that Abu Qatada would face a fair trial if deported.

"The agreement also includes a number of fair trial guarantees... I believe these guarantees will provide the courts with the assurance that Qatada will not face evidence that might have been obtained by torture in a retrial in Jordan," she said.

May made the announcement a day after the Court of Appeal in London refused her permission to challenge its ruling that the radical preacher cannot be sent back to Jordan due to rights concerns.

"The Jordanian parliament approved the agreement without demanding any amendments," Attieh said.

The British government has repeatedly sought fresh assurances from Jordan about Abu Qatada's treatment, but a Special Immigration Appeals Commission judge in November ruled again that he could not be sent back, a decision upheld by the Court of Appeal in March.

The agreement would also help London deport Walid Kurdi, a fugitive uncle of the king who was sentenced in Jordan last week to 37.5 years in jail with hard labour and a massive fine on two charges of abuse of office, according to Attieh.