UK

Abu Qatada Says He Will Return To Jordan If Theresa May's Anti-Torture Treaty Is Ratified

10/05/2013 10:02 BST | Updated 10/05/2013 11:45 BST

Abu Qatada has offered to return to Jordan - provided an anti-torture treaty is ratified.

The hate-preaching cleric's barrister made the surprise offer as he attempted to get released from prison at an immigration tribunal.

Qatada, also known as Omar Othman, had been jailed in Belmarsh Prison in March for alleged bail breaches.

At the start of the immigration hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC said: "If, and when, the Jordanian parliament ratifies the treaty, Mr Othman will voluntarily return to Jordan."

abu qatada

Abu Qatada is locked in a battle with Teresa May over his deportation

Security Minister James Brokenshire said: "The Home Secretary's focus remains on seeing Abu Qatada returned to Jordan at the earliest opportunity.

"We continue to pursue this case before the courts and to work with the Jordanian government to achieve this."

Last month, Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled the new treaty between the UK and Jordan offering fresh guarantees that evidence obtained by torture will not be used.

It was a change of tactics after ministers suffered yet another blow in its long-running battle to boot the radical cleric out of the country when the Court of Appeal refused it permission to take the fight to the Supreme Court.

The Government has been trying to deport him to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, for nearly eight years.