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UK court denies bail for Abu Qatada

A UK immigration tribunal denied bail for radical cleric Abu Qatada [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Monday due to the high risk of escape. Qatada's lawyers insist that he should be able to spend time with his family before he leaves the UK for Jordan, where he will stand trial for terrorism. Qatada was convicted in absentia for organizing and encouraging terrorist attacks in Jordan in 1999 and 2000. Justice Stephen Irwin of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) [official website] in London ruled that Qatada must remain in custody until he can be deported to Jordan. Qatada has been described as "Osama Bin Laden's right hand man in Europe," and is perceived as a high security threat.

Qatada has been held in the UK for more than a decade when he was arrested in 2002 under the anti-terrorism act. Last month the UK Court of Appeals denied [JURIST report] an appeal from an earlier decision not deport Qatada until a fair trial treaty has been ratified, fearing Qatada will be tortured upon his return to Jordan. SIAC denied [JURIST report] bail last May after Qatada was granted bail [JURIST report] in February and rearrested to begin deportation proceedings. In February 2009 the European Court of Human Rights ordered [JURIST report] the UK to pay Qatada 2,500 in damages, determining that he was illegally detained in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

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