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Britain loses another round in long legal battle to deport radical Islamic preacher to Jordan

LONDON — A militant Islamic preacher wanted in Jordan on terrorism charges won the latest legal battle to remain in Britain on Wednesday when senior appeal judges upheld a ruling that his human rights would be violated if he was sent to Jordan for trial.

The ruling was a humiliating defeat for British authorities in their long-standing effort to deport a preacher who has been described as a senior operative of Al Qaeda and as ‘‘a truly dangerous person.’’

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The government had challenged a ruling in November by an immigration panel that the preacher, known as Abu Qatada, would lose his right to a fair trial under European rights law if returned to Jordan. He faces a retrial there after being convicted in his absence in two bombing plots in 1999 and 2000. In recent years, he has spent much of his time in Britain either in detention or under other restrictions.

The case has hinged on whether evidence to be used in a Jordanian courtroom was likely to have been obtained under torture. But, more broadly, the legal battles are seen as part of a long-running test of Britain’s balance ­between human rights and ­national security, pitting demands for his removal against judicial assessments, both in Britain and Europe, relating to human rights.

One of the key rulings in the case came in January 2012, when the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, decided that evidence against the preacher in the Jordan bombings ‘‘had been obtained by torturing one of his co-defendants.’’ Deporting him would ‘‘legitimize the torture of witnesses and suspects,’’ it said, and ‘‘result in a flagrant denial of justice.’’

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