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Abu Qatada smiles as he is released from prison

Abu Qatada is driven out of the prison gates after he was released from HMP Long Lartin. Picture: Getty

Abu Qatada is driven out of the prison gates after he was released from HMP Long Lartin. Picture: Getty

TERROR suspect Abu Qatada smiled as he was released from jail today after winning the latest round in his battle against extradition.

• Abu Qatada released from prison after winning appeal against deportation

• Government fighting to have him sent to Jordan

Qatada was driven away from the maximum security prison HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire in a black Volkswagen people carrier.

The heavily-bearded radical cleric, who was sitting in the rear of the vehicle, made no attempt to hide from waiting media cameras and appeared to be smiling.

Judges yesterday approved his appeal against deportation to Jordan to stand trial.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) said that despite assurances from the Arab kingdom, it could not be sure that evidence from witnesses who had been tortured would not be included in a retrial in his homeland.

Home Secretary Theresa May, who travelled to Jordan earlier this year in a bid to pave the way for Qatada’s deportation, has vowed that the Government will continue to fight to “get rid” of him and told MPs yesterday the Home Office will appeal against Siac’s decision.

Qatada, once described as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, is expected to return to his home address in London - although he is said to be planning to move with his family.

He will be subject to a 16-hour curfew and allowed out between 8am and 4pm, with conditions including wearing an electronic tag, not using the internet, and not contacting certain people.

‘Dangerous’

Mrs May told MPs yesterday: “Qatada is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist, who is accused of serious crime in his home country of Jordan.

“The British Government has obtained from the Jordanian government assurances not just in relation to the treatment of Qatada himself, but about the quality of the legal processes that would be followed throughout his trial. We will therefore seek leave to appeal today’s decision.”

She added: “The Government has been doing everything it can to get rid of Abu Qatada and we will continue to do so.”

Mrs May described a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling, which prevented Qatada’s deportation earlier this year, as “deeply unsatisfactory” and accused the Strasbourg court of “moving the goalposts” for governments trying to deport dangerous foreign nationals.

Qatada, who is said to have wide and high-level support among extremists, featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

He has so far thwarted every attempt by the Government to deport him.

National security

Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “The Home Office will be ensuring that we take all the steps necessary to ensure that Qatada does not present a risk to national security.”

The spokesman confirmed that the Government believes yesterday’s tribunal ruling was based on the application of the wrong legal test.

He said that the issue will be raised in future discussions with the Jordanian authorities.

“We had received a number of assurances from the Jordanian government - they had even changed their constitution,” said the spokesman. “As the Home Secretary said, we will be appealing the judgment.

“We believe that we have got the right assurances from the Jordanian government.”

 
 
 

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