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Abu Qatada, radical Muslim cleric, blocks UK deportation plans with appeal

UK efforts to end to the long-running Abu Qatada case hit a stumbling block.

Abu qatada 2012 03 05Enlarge
The UK government says Qatada, long accused of being one of the UK’s most dangerous extremist preachers and a leading Al Qaeda figure in Europe, poses a threat to national security. ( - /AFP/Getty Images)

The European Court of Human Rights today said it had receieved a last-minute appeal from lawyers representing radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada, promising to delay UK efforts to deport the radical Muslim preacher as soon as possible and "get him out of our country for good" as promised by Britain's home secretary on Tuesday, reported Agence-France Press.

BBC quoted home secretary Theresa May as saying today that she was "absolutely" sure the appeal deadline had passed when she informed lawmakers on Tuesday of Qatada's impending deportation back to Jordan, where he is to face terror charges. 

Europe's rights court in January banned Qatada's extradition to Jordan over fears that evidence believed gained by torture would be used at his upcoming trial on terrorism charges, according to The Telegraph

The court today said Qatada's representetives filed a last-minute request on Tuesday, which it said was before the deadline, according to BBC

Qatada (legal name Omar Othman) has spent the last six years in legal wrangling over his deportation, a long-running case now seen as an important benchmark for Britain's treatment of suspected extremists, according to Reuters

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The case involves the longest detainment in the history modern immigration, according to SKY News, with Britain under pressure to resolve the politically-loaded case before London hosts the Olympic Games this summer.

Qatada, known as "Bin Laden's right hand man in Europe," had been kept under a 22-hour curfew in his north London house as part of extremely limiting bail conditions after a court ordered his release on grounds that he could not be held without trial, said The Telegraph

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Britaish officials had hoped to deport him to Jordan "on or around April 30," according to The Telegraph, but the new appeal promises further delays.

A European Court of Human Rights spokesperson told AFP today that a decision will "take a few weeks" and the court's earlier position will stand until then.

Qatada was convicted in absentia in Jordan over his alleged involvement in 1998 terror attacks, and his sermons were also discovered in the home of one of the accused September 11, 2001 bombers, said SKY News

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120418/abu-qatada-radical-muslim-cleric-blocks-uk-deport