British government loses Abu Qatada deportation appeal

LONDON (AFP) - The British government on Wednesday vowed not to give up its fight to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan after losing its latest court challenge to have him expelled.

Lawyers for Home Secretary Theresa May had appealed a decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in November allowing the Jordanian to stay in Britain, but this was dismissed.

In a ruling posted online on Wednesday, three Court of Appeal judges acknowledged that the government believed Abu Qatada to be an "exceptionally high risk terrorist".

But they said the government had not proved there were legal flaws in the SIAC decision, which found there was a real risk that evidence obtained through torture would be used in his retrial on terror charges in Jordan.

"We are satisfied that SIAC did not commit any legal errors. This appeal must therefore be dismissed," the ruling said.

The Home Office, or interior ministry, said it would study the ruling but indicated it would likely appeal, dragging out further the already decade-long battle by Britain to remove the cleric.

"This is not the end of the road. The government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada," the Home Office said in a statement on Twitter.

"We will consider the judgement on Abu Qatada carefully and plan to seek leave to appeal.

"In the meantime we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing Abu Qatada's deportation."

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