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Nick Clegg vows to get radical cleric Abu Qatada 'on plane to Jordan'

By Terri Judd London

Muslim cleric Abu Qatada looked set to spend many more months, even years, on British soil as he returned home to angry protests.

The 52-year-old looked relaxed and happy as he was driven away from Long Lartin high security jail.

As the Deputy British Prime Minister Nick Clegg vowed "we are absolutely determined to see this man get on a plane and go back to Jordan", experts warned the process could be lengthy.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ruled it was not satisfied with assurances that evidence from witnesses who had been tortured would not be included in a retrial in his homeland and granted Mr Qatada's appeal.

The government's response is likely to be two-pronged. British Home Secretary Theresa May has already stated it will appeal. Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts will undoubtedly be doubled to seek further assurances from the Jordanians.

Either option is expected to take time with any appeal unlikely before next year.

Mr Qatada has been fighting deportation for seven years after being convicted in his absence of involvement in terror attacks. He would face a retrial if returned.

In January judges at the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he could be sent back to Jordan with diplomatic assurances but he could not be deported while "there remains a real risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him".

Mr Qatada will now live under strict bail conditions which include a 16-hour curfew, the wearing of an electronic tag as well as a ban on using the internet or contacting certain people.

Yesterday he returned home to protesters brandishing banners proclaiming "Get him out!".

Local, Jackie Chaunt (50), said: "He shouldn't be here. He was supposed to be deported to Jordan. It's a disgrace."

He may have been released from jail, but the terror suspect is subject to a long list of comprehensive bail conditions.

He no longer has the 22-hour curfew he was previously given, but strict conditions include having no mobile phone, a ban on using computers, and not meeting anyone without prior permission.

They also include being forbidden from leading prayers, only being allowed one bank account, and not being allowed near any train or London Underground stations.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has voiced concerns about what restrictions could be placed on the cleric if the appeal fails and he is no longer on bail.

"At the moment there are bail conditions and monitoring in place but if the government's appeal fails at the next stage then we'll be reliant on counter-terror powers to make sure that the public are protected," she said.

(© Independent News Service)

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