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Page last updated at 08:54 GMT, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Blears: Abu Qatada release of 'extreme concern'


In the next few days, radical cleric Abu Qatada will be freed from jail after the European Court of Human Rights blocked his deportation to Jordan.

The BBC's Gordon Corera points out that Abu Qatada has a "unique influence" providing religious legitimacy to acts of violence. He adds that there is no evidence that the cleric has broken the law, adding that he has a "keen understanding" of where the law lies.

Hazel Blears, the former counter-terrorism and security minister, says we can't have a system where people are held indefinitely. However, she admits that she "wished" the judge would have considered bail only if negotiations with Jordan over deportation were "fruitless" in three months time.

It is of "extreme concern" for the country if Abu Qatada walks free, she tells Today presenter John Humphrys. He should be held for "as long as it takes" to put in a "satisfactory security regime" she believes.

I want us to act within human rights, she adds, but it's "very important" we protect the people in this country

David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, says deportation "should not be ruled out". Abu Qatada's release on "stringent bail conditions" will give "incentive" to the government to finalise deportation to Jordan, he adds.

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