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Jordanian Cleric Qatada Released on Bail After Human Rights Case

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Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Jordanian Islamic cleric Abu Qatada, accused of being an al-Qaeda terrorist, was released from a high-security U.K. prison yesterday a week after being granted bail by a London judge.

Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, was shown on news channels being released from the prison in Worcestershire, England. Under terms of the bail order issued last week by Judge John Mitting in London, Abu Qatada faces a 22-hour curfew.

U.K. plans to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan were halted by the European Court of Human Rights last month, saying courts in that country might use evidence gained through torture. The ruling blocked a 2009 U.K. decision allowing him to be sent to Jordan for retrial after he was convicted in absentia in 1999 and 2000 for involvement in terrorist plots. The European court said returning him to Jordan would violate his rights.

“Everyone is united in wanting this man deported,” the U.K. Home Office said in a statement today. “This government will exhaust all avenues open to get Qatada on a plane. As we do so, we will continue to negotiate with the Jordanians to see what assurances we can be given about the evidence used against Qatada in their courts.”

Under the terms of the bail, Abu Qatada will not be allowed to access the Internet or have any access to electronic communication devices, the Home Office said. He will also be electronically monitored. Abu Qatada has denied links to al-Qaeda.

The Jordanian cleric has been described by a judge in Spain as former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe. A British man was kidnapped and killed in Niger in 2009 by al-Qaeda’s north African network, which had threatened to kill him if the U.K. didn’t release Abu Qatada.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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