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Rediff.com  » News » Radical cleric Abu Qatada arrested in UK, back in jail

Radical cleric Abu Qatada arrested in UK, back in jail

March 10, 2013 12:10 IST

Radical preacher Abu Qatada, often referred to as Osama bin Laden's point man in Europe, was on Saturday sent back to jail by a British judge after being arrested for alleged breach of bail conditions.

"The appellant's bail is revoked forthwith, and he is ordered to be detained," judge Stephen Irwin said in an order, adding that Qatada would be detained at the high-security Belmarsh prison in southeast London.

Fifty-two-year-old Qatada had been rearrested at his home in north London by officials from the UK Border Agency on Friday.

The arrest came two days ahead of a latest government bid to have Qatada deported to Jordan, where he was convicted in absentia over terror plots in 1999 and 2000.

Saturday's decision was made during an urgent Special Immigration Appeals Commission meeting by phone. SIAC heard that he may have had prohibited communications equipment at his London home while he was present.

The UK government has been locked in a court battle to deport the Islamic cleric. He was due to appear at the Court of Appeal in London on

Monday as part of efforts by Home Secretary Theresa May to overturn a judge's decision to allow him to stay in Britain.

The UK Border Agency on Saturday arrested Qatada following raids by the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism unit. Officers searched two homes and a search of a third property was ongoing.

"The UK Border Agency arrested a 52-year-old man from north London for alleged breaches of his bail conditions imposed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission," an UKBA spokesperson said.

In November last year, the SIAC had ruled that he could not lawfully be deported to Jordan, where he was convicted of terrorism charges in his absence in 1999. The judges ruled there was a danger that evidence obtained by torture could be used against him in a retrial in Jordan. He was granted bail following the ruling, released from Long Lartin prison and returned to his family home in London, under 24-hour watch.

Qatada's strict bail conditions included only being allowed out of his house between 08:00 and 16:00 hours, having to wear an electronic tag, and being restricted in who he meets.

"A search at a residential address in north-west London is ongoing. Searches at a residential address in north-west London, a residential address in west London and a business address in north-west London have been completed," a Metropolitan police spokesperson said.

The radical preacher, who also featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers, has fought deportation from the UK for more than a decade.

The UK government had recently re-doubled its efforts to deport Qatada, with home office minister James Brokenshire flying to Jordan for talks with the country's Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on the issue.

Jordan wants him returned to face a retrial and the country's Justice Minister Ayman Odeh has promised that Qatada would be given a new and fair trial with no evidence gained from torture.

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