13 Feb 2012

Extremist cleric Abu Qatada to be released

Muslim cleric Abu Qatada is set to be released from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire. He will wear an electronic tag and is banned from using the internet or telephone.

Abu Qatada - Getty

Qatada (aka Omar Othman), said by Home Secretary Theresa May to pose a “real threat” to the UK’s national security, will be confined to a London residence for 22 hours per day and will not be allowed out for the early morning school run.

Last month, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled he could not be deported to Jordan – where he faces terror charge – without assurances from Amman that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.

The ruling represented the first time that the ECHR has found an extradition would be in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a fair trial, which is enshrined in UK law under the Human Rights Act.

Qatada, 51, must also wear an electronic tag, is banned from using the internet and telephone, and any callers to his home apart from his wife and children must be screened by the security services prior to visiting.

Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron met with King Abdullah of Jordan and spoke of the “frustrating and difficult” position Britain was in over its efforts to deport Qatada.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire has also been sent to Amman in a push to secure the assurances needed from Jordan before Qatada can be sent home.

The cleric has been held for six-and-a-half years, more than any other detainee in modern immigration history, while fighting deportation.

Qatada was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and has featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

Mrs May has only three months to demonstrate that the government is making progress in securing his deportation or risk Qatada being freed from his bail conditions.

Her deadline conveniently fits with her pledge to “do everything possible” to deport him before the start of the London Olympics in July.

Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said: “We are committed to removing him from the country. We want to see him deported and we are looking at all the options for doing that. I’m not going to go into specifics.”