Radical cleric Qatada released
Terror suspect Abu Qatada was released from prison in England today after winning the latest round in his battle against deportation.
The radical cleric, who has been fighting extradition for more than a decade, was released on bail after judges yesterday approved his appeal against deportation to Jordan to stand trial.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission allowed Qatada’s appeal, saying despite assurances to home secretary Theresa May, it could not be sure that evidence from witnesses who had been tortured would not be included in a retrial in the Middle East country.
Ms May has vowed the government will continue to fight to “get rid” of Qatada and told the House of Commons the Home Office will appeal the commission’s decision.
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, following yesterday’s ruling.
He will return to his home address - although he is said to be planning to move with his family.
He will be subject to a 16-hour curfew and allowed out between 8am and 4pm, with conditions including wearing an electronic tag, not using the internet, and not contacting certain people.
The cleric was convicted of terror charges in Jordan in his absence in 1999.
British prime minister David Cameron said he was “fed up” that Qatada is still in the country.
“I am completely fed up with the fact that this man is still at large in our country. He has no right to be there, we believe he is a threat to our country. We have moved heaven and earth to try to comply with every single dot and comma of every single convention to get him out of our country," he said.
“It is extremely frustrating and I share the British people’s frustration with the situation we find ourselves in.”
Jordan has given the home secretary assurances that no evidence gained through torture will be used against him, but judges at the commission said they could not be sure this would in fact be the case.
Ms 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.”
Asked to comment on Qatada, British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg told ITV’s Daybreak: “We are determined to deport him, we strongly disagree with the court ruling. We are going to challenge it, we are going to take it to appeal. We are absolutely determined to see this man get on a plane and go back to Jordan, he does not belong here.
“He should not be in this country, he is a dangerous person. He wanted to inflict harm on our country and this coalition government is going to do everything we can to challenge this every step of the way to make sure that he is deported to Jordan.”