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July 07, 2013

Jordan Charges Deported Muslim Cleric with Terrorism

by VOA News

Jordanian military prosecutors have charged radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada with conspiracy to carry out terror attacks, just hours after his deportation from Britain.

The French news agency, AFP, quoted Abu Qatada's lawyer Taysir Diab as saying the Muslim preacher pleaded not guilty and that an appeal to release him on bail would be submitted to the court in Amman on Monday.

Abu Qatada's deportation early Sunday ended a nearly decade-long legal battle to have him returned to Jordan to face terrorism charges.

The move came after Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing the human rights concerns that blocked previous attempts to deport the Palestinian-born Jordanian preacher.

The 53-year-old Abu Qatada, once dubbed Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, is expected to face retrial in several Jordanian terrorism cases in which he was sentenced in absentia.

British governments have tried since 2001 to deport him, but courts in that country and Europe blocked his extradition due to concerns that Jordan might use evidence obtained under torture against him.

The treaty ratified last month eased those concerns.

British officials welcomed Abu Qatada's departure. Home Secretary Theresa May pledged to work to eliminate the many layers of appeals processes available in such cases, so that this kind of drawn-out legal battle cannot be repeated.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.