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U.K. Deports Abu Qatada To Jordan


Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada boarded a small aircraft bound for Jordan during his deportation from Royal Air Force base Northolt in London early on July 7.
Britain has deported radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he was quickly put before a judge to answer to terrorism charges.

Abu Qatada's return to his homeland early on July 7 brought to an end a more-than-decade-long battle by the British government to expel a man prosecutors described as an Al-Qaeda operative.

The 53-year-old Palestinian-born Abu Qatada -- whose real name is Omar Mahmur Muhammad Othman -- had been wanted in Jordan for retrial in several terrorism cases.

His lawyer said within hours of his arrival in Amman that his client had pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges. The lawyer, Taysir Diab, said he would try to free his client on bail.

Abu Qatada was expected to be transferred to Muwaqqar prison on the outskirts of Amman.

He was sentenced to a life sentence in absentia by a Jordanian military court in 1999. He is expected to appeal that sentence.

Abu Qatada was once described by a Spanish judge as the late Al-Qaeda leader "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe."

Successive British governments have tried since 2001 to deport Abu Qatada, but courts have blocked extradition over concerns that evidence obtained under torture could be used against him.

Last month, Jordan and Britain ratified a treaty aimed at ensuring that evidence from torture will not be used.

British Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed Abu Qatada’s deportation, saying "a dangerous man has now been removed" from Britain.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP