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Rights Court Halts Extradition of Radical Muslim Cleric from Britain


The European Court of Human Rights says it has asked Britain to halt the extradition of a radical Muslim cleric and suspected al-Qaida member, Abu Qatada, from Britain to Jordan.

The Strasbourg-based court said Friday it made the request so it can review Qatada's claim that, if returned to Jordan, he faces torture.

On Thursday, the same court ordered Britain to pay $3,500 in compensation to Qatada and 10 other people for unlawfully detaining them during an anti-terrorism investigation seven years ago.

The European Court of Human Rights issued its rulings after a British court cleared the way for Qatada's deportation to Jordan.

A Jordanian court had convicted him in absentia on terrorism charges. Qatada has been fighting the move.

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, and then was arrested again.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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