Abu Qatada to walk free after being cleared of terror charges

Radical cleric acquitted of involvement in a 2000 bomb plot targeting Israeli and Western tourists

Abu Qatada behind the bars in Amman, Jordan
(Image credit: STR/AFP/Getty )

Radical preacher Abu Qatada will be released from prison after he was cleared of terrorism charges in Jordan.

Qatada, who was deported from the UK last year after an eight-year battle with the Home Office, was cleared of involvement in a foiled bomb plot in 2000 targeting Israeli and Western tourists during Jordan's Millennium celebrations.

The trial took place at Jordan's state security court in a military base in Marka, a suburb of the capital Amman.

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Qatada had been convicted and sentenced on the charge by a trial in absentia, but avoided prison in Jordan after being granted asylum in the UK. However, he lost his refugee status in 2002 when he was detained on suspicion of terrorism offences. A long deportation process began three years later, costing UK taxpayers £1.7m.

Although Qatada will soon be free, he will not be returning to London, says The Times. After he was acquitted in June of conspiring in a 1998 bombing campaign in Jordan, David Cameron insisted that he had no UK passport and there was no way he would be allowed to return to Britain.

The Home Office repeated today that there was no question of him returning. "The UK courts agreed that Abu Qatada posed a threat to national security in the UK, so we are pleased that we were able to remove him," a spokesman told The Guardian. "Abu Qatada remains subject to a deportation order and a United Nations travel ban. He is not coming back to the UK."

Qatada was flown to Jordan last July after a "memorandum of understanding" signed between the UK and Jordan assured he would receive a fair trial. The agreement stated that evidence extracted through torture would not be used against him.

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