The decision represents a setback to the British government, which has been trying to get Abu Qatada removed from British soil for years.
Home Office officials say they strongly disagree with the ruling and planned to appeal. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission blocked the deportation, saying it was not convinced by the government’s assurances that no evidence obtained through torture would be used against Abu Qatada in Jordan.
The judges said that the British government “has not satisfied us that ...there is no real risk” that statements obtained under torture would not be used at a trial of the suspected terrorist in Jordan.
The Palestinian-born Jordanian cleric, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, has been convicted in absentia in Jordan over bomb plots and faces retrial if extradited.
Britain has signed an agreement with Jordan which it says ensures that the preacher will not face ill-treatment, but Abu Qatada’s lawyers convinced the judges that the deal does not offer sufficient protection.
Abu Qatada, who has been described in British and Spanish courts as a senior Al-Qaeda figure in Europe with close ties to the late Osama bin Laden, has fought attempts to extradite him from Britain since 2001. He is currently in prison.
Earlier this year, he was denied permission to take his case to a European court, but he triumphed in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.