UK judge denies bail to Jordanian preacher

Judge rules releasing Abu Qatada would be "exceptionally problematic" amid heightened security for London Olympics.

    UK judge denies bail to Jordanian preacher
    Abu Qatada has been denied bail, as he awaits his appeal against deportation to Jordan [GALLO/GETTY]

    A British immigration judge has denied bail to Abu Qatada, saying he could not risk having the Jordanian cleric on the streets during the London Olympics.

    Abu Qatada is being held in a high-security prison while he fights deportation to Jordan over terror charges. Both the British and Jordanian governments want the Muslim preacher to stand trial in Jordan, but he claims he will be tortured if he is deported.

    Abu Qatada lost his bid to make a final appeal of a deportation order to the European Court of Human Rights on Monday, but his lawyers had applied to release him on bail because deportation proceedings could still take several months.

    Judge John Mitting said Monday afternoon that having Abu Qatada free on London's streets would be "exceptionally problematic" at a time of heightened security around the Olympics, which take place from July 27 to August 12 in London.

    Mitting ruled that the cleric should remain in prison without bail ahead of his deportation appeal.

    "It's very surprising that he won't get bail," Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reported from London. "For now, Abu Qatada will remain in a British prison."

    "We know that any decision won't be until at least November this year," he said, with the appeal hearing set for October.

    Abu Qatada, 51, once described by a Spanish judge as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", was convicted in his absence in Jordan in 1998 for involvement in terror attacks.

    He claimed asylum in Britain in 1993, but officials say he is a threat to British security and should be deported before London hosts the Olympic Games in July and August.

    Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, has been in and out of jail since he was first detained without charge under British anti-terrorism laws in 2002.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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