Muslim cleric Abu Qatada released on bail in Britain

Tuesday 13 November 2012 20.50
Abu Qatada was convicted of terror charges in Jordan in his absence in 1999
Abu Qatada was convicted of terror charges in Jordan in his absence in 1999

Muslim cleric Abu Qatada has been released on bail in Britain after winning the latest stage in his seven-year legal battle to avoid deportation to Jordan, where he faces terrorism charges.

Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, had been in prison in the UK for seven years.

His release is subject to bail conditions, including only being allowed leave his house between 8am and 4pm and wearing an electronic tag.

British Home Secretary Theresa May branded the ruling as "deeply unsatisfactory", and has said her government will try to appeal against the decision.

Mr Qatada, once described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, was released from maximum security prison HMP Long Lartin near Evesham, Worcestershire.

He will return to his home address - although he is said to be planning to move with his family.

The cleric was convicted of terror charges in Jordan in his absence in 1999.

Jordan has given Britain assurances that no evidence gained through torture will be used against him but Siac judges said they could not be sure this would be the case.

Mrs May told MPs yesterday: "Qatada is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist, who is accused of serious crime in his home country of Jordan.

"The British government has obtained from the Jordanian government assurances not just in relation to the treatment of Qatada himself, but about the quality of the legal processes that would be followed throughout his trial. We will therefore seek leave to appeal today's decision."

She added: "The government has been doing everything it can to get rid of Abu Qatada and we will continue to do so."

Mrs May described a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling, which prevented Mr Qatada's deportation earlier this year, as "deeply unsatisfactory" and accused the Strasbourg court of "moving the goalposts" for governments trying to deport dangerous foreign nationals.

Mr Qatada, who is said to have wide and high-level support among extremists, featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the 11 September bombers.

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