Extradition of alleged bin Laden aide blocked

European human rights court says there is a "real risk" that evidence against Abu Qatada had been "obtained by torture".


    The European Court of Human Rights has blocked the extradition of Jordanian national Abu Qatada, who is alleged to have been Osama bin Laden's right-hand-man in Europe.

    The court in its judgement said on Tuesday that there was a "real risk" that evidence against Abu Qatada, a UK-based Muslim religious leader, had been "obtained by torture of third persons" in custody in Jordan.

    The court "finds that there is a real risk that the applicant's retrial would amount to a flagrant denial of justice" - a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on Human Rights.

    Abu Qatada, once labelled bin Laden's right-hand-man in Europe by a Spanish judge, maintained he faced torture in his homeland after being sentenced in his absence to life imprisonment for terrorism offences.

    Abu Qatada, also known as Omar Mohammed Othman, is included on a UN list of people associated with the presumed perpetrators of the September 11, 2001,  attacks in the US.

    Jordan says Abu Qatada, who has had political asylum in Britain since 1993, conspired to carry out the 1998 bombings in Amman, Jordan, on the American School and the Jerusalem Hotel.

    He also allegedly funded a violent network known as Reform and Challenge (Al-Islah Wal Tahhadi) which was dismantled in 1999, but received an amnesty for those charges.

    Jordan has repeatedly urged London to extradite him.

    A Jordanian of Palestinian origin, he has been in and out of prison since moving to Britain.

    "The applicant has discharged the burden that could be fairly imposed on him of establishing the evidence against him was obtained by torture," the court said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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