Abu Qatada Cleared Of Terror Charges In Jordan

Radical preacher Abu Qatada has been cleared of terror charges in Jordan and is expected to be released from prison.

Abu Qatada was deported from the UK last year following a long-running battle by the Home Office which cost millions of pounds.

The Palestinian-Jordanian preacher was once referred to as “Osama Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe” by a Spanish judge.

He was facing charges over the so-called “millennium plot” to target American and Israeli tourists during New Year celebrations in Jordan.

Sky’s Tom Rayner, at the trial in Amman, said AbuQatada seemed to be expecting the verdict and gave a “wink and a kind of smile” to his family when he stepped into the caged dock.

The preacher’s supporters cheered when the judge handed down his verdict. He was expected to walk free from prison on Wednesday.

The Home Office said there was no chance of AbuQatada returning to the UK.

A spokesman said: “Abu Qatada remains subject to a deportation order and a United Nations travel ban. He is not coming back to the UK.”

Abu Qatada had already been acquitted in June over a series of 1998 bomb plots.

The cleric had previously been convicted and sentenced on both charges by a trial in absentia, but had avoided Jordanian justice after getting asylum in the UK.

He lost his refugee status in 2002 when he was detained on suspicion of terrorism offences, and was held in indefinite detention at high-security prisons, but never stood trial.

Abu Qatada was eventually thrown out of the country in July 2013 after a high-profile campaign by the Government, which argued he was a threat to national security.

It came after a “memorandum of understanding” between UK and Jordan assured he would receive a fair trial.

The agreement stipulated that although he would be tried in a military-security court, the case would be heard by a civilian judge.

It also said that evidence which may have been acquired through torture would not be eligible in the case.

With that guarantee in place, said Sky’s Tom Rayner, “the judge said there simply wasn’t enough evidence to convict him”.

He said: “The real question is what he will do here in Jordan. He is a renowned jihadist figure, he is a known al Qaeda sympathiser.”

Tom Rayner added that AbuQatada’s criticism of Islamic State could ironically make him a “stabilising force” within the country in case extremists were thinking of a backlash over the country’s support for US airstrikes.

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24 September 2014 | 10:15 am – Source: orange.co.uk

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