First Published: 2012-11-13

 

Abu Qatada released from UK prison

 

Radical Muslim cleric freed on bail after court rules he might not get fair trial if deported to Jordan to face terrorism charges.

 

Middle East Online

By Guy Jackson - LONDON

Staying in Britain

Britain on Tuesday released terror suspect Abu Qatada from prison on bail after judges ruled that the man dubbed Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe should not be extradited to Jordan.

The radical Islamist preacher, who is in his early 50s, was driven out of the high-security Long Lartin prison in central England in a black van at high speed, television pictures showed.

Abu Qatada was expected to be taken to his home in northwest London where he will be under a curfew 16 hours a day but can leave his home between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

He will have to wear an electronic tag and who he meets will be restricted.

The heavily bearded Jordanian of Palestinian origin has been in jail in Britain for the past seven years fighting extradition, and also spent much of the time between 2002 and 2005 in detention or under house arrest.

Abu Qatada was convicted in absentia in Jordan in 1998 for involvement in terror attacks.

The decision by senior judges on Monday to uphold his appeal against extradition to Jordan was a major blow for the British government, which has fought for seven years to deport him.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said on Tuesday that the government was determined to deport Abu Qatada.

"We strongly disagree with the court ruling. We are going to challenge it, we are going to take it to appeal," Clegg told ITV television.

"We are absolutely determined to see this man get on a plane and go back to Jordan, he does not belong here," Clegg said.

Home Secretary Theresa May has said had ordered Abu Qatada's extradition after she was given assurances by Jordan that no evidence gained through the torture of two other men would be used against him in a retrial.

But the Special Immigration Appeals Commission -- a semi-secret panel of British judges that deals with decisions on national security -- said that could not be guaranteed.

May told parliament after Monday's decision: "Qatada is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist, who is accused of serious crime in his home country of Jordan."

She said she believed that the judge who made the final decision had applied the "wrong legal test" in finding in Abu Qatada's favour, adding: "It is deeply unsatisfactory that Abu Qatada has not already been deported to Jordan.

"Successive governments have tried to remove him since December 2001. He has a long-standing association with Al-Qaeda. British courts have found that he 'provides a religious justification for acts of violence and terror'."

The European Court of Human Rights had ruled earlier this year that Abu Qatada could not be deported while there was a "real risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him" in a possible retrial.

May then travelled to Jordan to secure guarantees from Amman that he would receive a fair trial and the European court subsequently gave the go-ahead for him to be extradited.

But the immigration tribunal ruled Monday that statements from Abu Qatada's former co-defendants Al-Hamasher and Abu Hawsher, which were alleged to have been obtained by torture, created a risk that any trial would be unfair.

The cleric, a father of five whose real name is Omar Mohammed Othman, arrived in Britain in 1993 claiming asylum and has been a thorn in the side of successive British governments.

Videos of his sermons were found in the Hamburg flat used by some of the hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He has also defended the killing of Jews and attacks on Americans.

A Spanish judge once branded him late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, although Abu Qatada denies ever having met bin Laden.

Britain first ordered his deportation in 2005 and his appeal against that order was rejected in 2009. May then signed a fresh deportation order and Abu Qatada appealed to the European court.

He was briefly freed on bail earlier this year but then re-arrested.

In October Britain extradited another radical Islamist preacher, Abu Hamza, and four other terror suspects to the United States.

 

British PM joins GCC summit for trade talks

Morocco PM statement on Russia’s ‘destructive’ role in Syria angers Moscow

Kerry accuses right-wing Israelis of sabotaging peace process

Qatar to invest up to $13bn on 'mega projects' in 2017

Moroccan TV programme on battered women provokes outcry

Libyan forces hunt remaining jihadists in Sirte

Iraqi jailed in Sweden for war crimes after Facebook post

Regime forces seize five Aleppo districts from rebels

Israeli artist erects golden Netanyahu statue in protest

Russia says US stalling on Aleppo rebel pullout

Saudi sentences 15 to death for being Iranian spies

US defence secretary says Mosul battle could end before Trump

US, NATO stress 'unity' as Trump raises doubts

Greece to extradite three Turkish coup officers

Egypt arrests 25 human organ traffickers

Israel far right hails bill to 'legalise' settler homes

Merkel says Aleppo situation ‘disgrace’

Iranian president says sanctions renewal proves US still ‘enemy’

Yemen arrests eight IS suspects in Aden

Turkey arrests opposition advisor over alleged Gulen links

Russia says OPEC, non-OPEC countries to meet in Vienna

Israel government nears deal that could 'legalise' settler homes

Yemen's Hadi would only give way to 'elected' leader

Russia says medic killed, others injured in Aleppo fighting

Greek court rejects extradition of Turkey officers

Sudan court frees 26 protesters

Syria rebels to reject Aleppo withdrawal plan

Libya loyalist forces capture Sirte

Israeli envoy to Turkey resumes work after 2010 fallout

New Iraqi law legitimising militias sparks controversy

Israel lifts ban on parcel post to Gaza

Russia, US to hold talks on rebel pullout from Aleppo

UN appeals for $22.2 billion in global aid

Air strikes kill at least 46 in Syria's Idlib

China warns against obstruction of Iran nuclear deal

First buses take Aleppo residents back to ruined homes

Kurdish restrictions cause ‘unnecessary harm’ to Iraq Yazidis

Heavy fighting shakes eastern Aleppo as army advances

Blocked news website accuses Qatar government of censorship

Yemen prepares assault on Iran backed rebels near key strait

Palestinian Fatah conference ends with boost for Abbas

Egypt court strikes down part of protest law

Syria army advances deeper into east Aleppo

US rules out military intervention in Libya

Saudi Arabia names new Labour Minister, reshuffles councils