Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 18:35 UK

Abu Qatada's release 'imminent'

Abu Qatada
Abu Qatada is alleged to have played a key role in extremist circles in the UK.

Radical Islamist preacher Abu Qatada is to be released on bail within 24 hours, officials say.

A senior judge has signed papers authorising the release of Abu Qatada, previously described as Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe.

The Palestinian-Jordanian preacher will be subjected to a 22-hour home curfew and other restrictions on his liberty.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was "disappointed" with the decision, and the government would appeal.

Abu Qatada, once described by a judge as a "truly dangerous individual at the centre of al-Qaeda's activities in the UK", is being held in Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire.

I am appealing to the House of Lords to reverse the decision that it is not safe to deport Qatada and the other Jordanian cases.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith

Last month the Court of Appeal blocked his deportation to Jordan, where Abu Qatada has been convicted in his absence of involvement in terror attacks.

Appeal court judges feared evidence gained from torture could be used against Abu Qatada in a future trial.

Restrictions

On Tuesday he was granted bail, with strict conditions, by Mr Justice Mitting of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC).

As well as the wearing of an electronic tag, the restrictions include a ban on attending a mosque and leading prayers or religious instruction.

Abu Qatada must stay in his west London home for at least 22 hours a day, and cannot attend any kind of meeting. He is also forbidden from using mobile phones, computers or the internet.

Police have special permission to enter and search his home while Abu Qatada is banned from having guests other than family and solicitors.

Among the people he is banned from meeting in London is Osama Bin Laden.

Others include Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and Rachid Ramda, who has been convicted in France of masterminding a series of bombings in 1995.

Also named is hate preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri.

'Disappointed'

Ms Smith said she was disappointed that Abu Qatada had been been granted bail, even though the conditions were strict ones.

She added: "I am appealing to the House of Lords to reverse the decision that it is not safe to deport [Abu] Qatada and the other Jordanian cases.

"The government's priority is to protect public safety and national security and we will take all steps necessary to do so."

Wanted man

Abu Qatada became one of the UK's most wanted men in December 2001 when he went on the run, on the eve of government moves to introduce anti-terror laws allowing suspects to be detained without charge or trial.

In October 2002 the authorities tracked him down to a council house in south London and took him to Belmarsh Prison.

He was eventually freed on bail in March 2005, but was made the subject of a control order to limit his movements.

In August that year he was taken back into custody pending the extradition to Jordan.




SEE ALSO
Profile: Abu Qatada
17 Jun 08 |  UK


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