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The radical Islamist preacher Abu Qatada, long accused of being one of the UK’s most dangerous extremist clerics, was released today from a maximum security prison in Worcestershire.
LONDON, UK – The radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada, long accused of being one of the UK’s most dangerous extremist preachers, has been released from Long Lartin maximum security prison in Worcestershire.
Citing "official sources," Sky News reports that Qatada was released as expected after final conditions for his bail were approved.
The 51-year-old Palestinian-Jordanian cleric has spent more than six years in prison fighting deportation to Jordan, where he faces terrorism charges related to two alleged bomb plots in 1999 and 2000.
The UK government says Qatada poses a threat to national security. He has been described in both British and Spanish courts as a leading Al Qaeda figure in Europe.
Last week a judge ruled that he should be released on bail following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which blocked Qatada’s deportation on the grounds that evidence obtained through torture might be used against him in Jordan.
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Sky News also reported that ongong discussions between Jordanian and British authorites had resulted in assurances that Qatada would not be tortured and the torture evidence would not be held against him, should he be extradited. It was unclear whether this would be sufficient to allow an extradition before the restrictions on Qatada's liberties expire.
Britain’s judicial communications office said Monday that bail conditions for the preacher had been agreed, without the need for a further court hearing. According to The Guardian, Qatada is to be taken to an address in London, where he will live with his immediate family under a 22-hour curfew.
No mobile phone or Internet use is permitted under his bail conditions, which also require him to wear an electronic tag.
The UK Government said today that “all the options” for removing Qatada from the UK were being considered, the BBC reported.
“We will take all measures necessary to protect the public,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “We are committed to removing him from the country. We want to see him deported.”
According to the Associated Press, Abu Qatada arrived in Britain in 1993 and was detained in 2002 under anti-terrorism laws, which permitted suspected terrorists to be jailed without charge. He was released in 2005 when the law was overturned, but arrested again within months and held pending deportation to Jordan.
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