Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Qatada freedom bid set for Friday

Abu Qatada was arrested in March for alleged bail breaches and is currently being held in Belmarsh prison

Immigration judges are to decide whether radical cleric Abu Qatada should be released from custody at a hearing this week.

The terror suspect, who continues to thwart Government attempts to remove him from Britain, was arrested in March for alleged bail breaches and is currently being held in Belmarsh prison.

Qatada, who was living at a secret location with his family before his arrest, is being investigated over suspected extremist material from a range of sources including online, Scotland Yard later revealed.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) will hear Qatada's bail application on Friday, the Judicial Office said.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We will strongly resist this application to release Qatada on bail. We believe he poses a real risk to national security and should remain behind bars."

Qatada is accused of breaching a bail condition that prohibits him from having mobile telephones switched on in his house while he is present. The Government has been trying to deport the terror suspect to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, for nearly eight years.

Immigration judges decided last year that Qatada, also known as Omar Othman, could not be deported over fears that evidence obtained through torture would be used against him in the middle-eastern country.

Last month, the Home Secretary unveiled a new treaty between the UK and Jordan offering fresh guarantees that such torture evidence will not be used.

But sounding a note of caution, Theresa May said the agreement does not mean Qatada will be ''on a plane to Jordan within days'' as he will still be able to appeal against any fresh decisions to deport him.

The announcement came after the Government suffered yet another blow in its long-running battle to boot the radical cleric out of the country when the Court of Appeal refused it permission to take the fight to the Supreme Court. Mrs May said the Government would now request permission to appeal directly from the Supreme Court.

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