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Abu Qatada Asks London Judges to Block Extradition to Jordan

Abu Qatada, an Islamic cleric accused of having links to the al-Qaeda terrorist group, asked a U.K. judge to block his extradition to Jordan.

The 51-year-old terror suspect, whose real name is Omar Othman, began an eight-day case at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in London today to avoid facing trial for terror-related offenses in Jordan.

The latest hearing follows a series of attempts to avoid deportation by Abu Qatada, whose lawyers say he has been subject to the longest period of administrative detention in recent English history. Two U.K. judges last week refused to block the extradition of another cleric, 54-year-old Abu Hamza, to the U.S. after eight years of legal wrangling, part of which included a U.K. prison sentence for encouraging followers to kill Jews and other non-Muslims.

Abu Qatada, who denies links to al-Qaeda, was briefly released from U.K. custody in February after the Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Human Rights ruled his right to a fair trial may be violated by his deportation. The U.K. subsequently said it received assurances from Jordan he would receive a fair, civilian trial and British police re-arrested him April 17.

The human rights court refused in May to hear an appeal by Abu Qatada against the U.K. deportation order on separate grounds that he may face torture in Jordan.

He was also denied bail by a London court in May. The judge in that case ruled security resources would be in high demand during the Olympic Games and releasing Abu Qatada would place an unnecessary burden on police. His lawyers then failed in July to convince a London court to review the decision.

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