AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada arrived in Jordan on Sunday to face retrial on terrorism charges after his deportation from Britain, a Jordanian military prosecutor said.
The arrival is a victory for Jordan, whose extradition request was blocked in British and European courts for over a decade. Jordanian and Western intelligence accuse Abu Qatada of being a key al-Qaida operative in Europe. He had been previously sentenced in absentia to life in jail, but that has been lifted now that he faces a new trial.
Information Minister Mohammed Momani said Jordan "is keen on credibility and transparency" in handling Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman. The deportation of the Palestinian-born Jordanian cleric, he said, "sends a message to all fugitives that they will face justice in Jordan."
The move comes after Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing human rights concerns that had blocked previous attempts to deport him.
In London, British Home Secretary Theresa May had announced Abu Qatada's departure in a statement, expressing confidence that the U.K. public would welcome the conclusion of efforts dating back to 2001 to remove the radical cleric.
"This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country," May said. The Home Office then posted a picture on Twitter of Abu Qatada climbing the steps of a plane.
Britain had tried since 2001 to deport Abu Qatada but courts had blocked extradition over concerns that evidence obtained under torture could be used against him.