Abu Qatada freed from jail by Jordanian court
Abu Qatada, a Muslim preacher accused by Britain and the US of terrorism related offences, has been acquitted of all charges by a Jordanian court and freed from prison.
On Wednesday a military tribunal in Amman ruled there was insufficient evidence against the cleric, which a panel of civilian judges described as “weak” and “inadmissible”.
Abu Qatada al-Filistini, born Omar Mahmoud Othman, is a Jordanian resident of Palestinian origin currently under a worldwide embargo by the United Nations Security Council for alleged affiliations with Al Qaeda. He was granted asylum in the UK in 1994 but was since seen as a security threat by the security service MI5 due to his preachings.
In 2000 he was sentenced to 15 years UK imprisonment on evidence human rights groups alleged was obtained under torture.
UK prosecutors and in Jordan alleged the cleric had conspired to target Israeli and Western tourists during millennium celebrations in the country, charges which he vehemently denied, which rights groups claimed were politically motivated.
After years spent behind bars and losing to an eight-year deportation battle between Whitehall and the judiciary costing £1.7m, 53-year-old Abu Qatada was deported back to the Middle East.
In the court room, the preacher wept as the judges at Marka state security court dismissed all the charges in the millennium case saying that the evidence may have been obtained under torture and may not be true.
Members of the Qatada family sobbed and cheered, and embraced one another after the ruling was read out.
Ghazi Althunibat, one of the defendant’s lawyers told journalists, stated: “The decision is aligned with Jordanian law and the UK treaty. He is innocent and he deserved to be declared innocent.”
Earlier in June Mr Qatada was acquitted of a foiled plot in 1999 targeting an American school in Amman, charges which he pleaded not guilty to.
Almost immediately after the case was overturned UK officials issued a statement insisting there was no way he would be allowed into the UK.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Abu Qatada’s retrial in Jordan was made possible thanks to this government’s determination to successfully deport him from the UK to face the courts in his own country.
“It is right that the due process of law has taken place in Jordan. The UK courts agreed that Abu Qatada posed a threat to national security in the UK, so we are pleased that we were able to remove him.
“Abu Qatada remains subject to a deportation order and a United Nations travel ban. He is not coming back to the UK.”