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Quilliam strongly disagrees with the European Court’s judgement on Abu Qatada which will now allow him to walk free. However, it is also a matter of concern that Abu Qatada has been detained for six and a half years without charge – the longest such period in history.
This predicament is believed to be a direct result of the historic policy of MI5 and the Home Office, which viewed extremist preachers as strategic assets to the United Kingdom’s foreign policy; lessons must now be learnt from the mistakes of past policies. A trial of Abu Qatada in the United Kingdom may lead to embarrassing revelations of historic MI5 involvement in his presence. Quilliam is pleased that the government and the Prime Minister have since changed this policy, but is also aware of certain groups who are lobbying for a return to this policy.
Nevertheless, we cannot advocate putting aside the rule of law and due process. The suggestion to ignore the European Court’s decision is irresponsible.
Maajid Nawaz, Co-Founder and Chairman says
‘The United Kingdom prides itself on its respect for the rule of law and human rights. We can only ever gain the upper hand on the ‘War on Terror’ by adhering to our moral high ground. Especially since the ‘War on Terror’ is pitched as a war on values.’
The only action left in a country such as the United Kingdom, which has the highest respect for due process and is a proud world leader in this field, is
· to work within the legal framework available to us, and to use all our diplomatic and legal efforts to appeal the European court’s judgement
· to lobby the Jordanians (who have historically been British allies), to guarantee a fair and transparent trial for Abu Qatada in Jordan.
In a twist of irony, Abu Qatada’s release has put the media spotlight on him once more, which may not be a bad thing. If he is sent to Jordan, the media will scrutinise the details of his trial, thus giving him access to transparency and due process.
If neither of these two results are achieved, then Quilliam, with regret, advocates extending Abu Qatada’s restrictive bail conditions.
Quilliam also urges the swift resolution of other such pending cases, including that of British citizen, Babar Ahmed, who has been held in prison without charge for almost 8 years.