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Court Orders Britain to Compensate Islamic Radical Cleric


The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Britain to pay $3,500 to a radical Islamic preacher for unlawfully detaining him during an anti-terrorism investigation seven years ago.

The Strasbourg-based court issued its ruling in the case of Abu Qatada a day after a British court cleared the way for his extradition to Jordan. A Jordanian court had convicted him in absentia on terrorism charges. Qatada has been fighting the move, saying he could be tortured in Jordan.

The European court Thursday also ordered Britain to compensate 10 other people British authorities detained following the September 11th, 2001 attacks in the United States.

British authorities say the compensation is considerably less than what Qatada had sought. However, the court noted the government detained the cleric as part of an effort to protect itself "in the face of a public emergency."

British officials have described Qatada as al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's top European deputy.

He arrived in Britain in the 1990s. However, he disappeared just before tough new anti-terrorism laws took effect in 2001.

Authorities arrested him the following year. He spent three years in prison, was released, then arrested again.

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