[JURIST] Muslim cleric Abu Qatada [BBC profile] was granted bail Monday by a Special Immigration Appeals Commission [official website] in the UK. He made his application for bail after winning an appeal [JURIST report] in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] to avoid deportation to his native Jordan. A court in Jordan previously found him guilty in absentia [Reuters report] of two bomb plots. The ECHR ruled in January that he could not be deported because it is questionable as to whether he would receive a fair trial due to some evidence possibly being obtained by torture. Qatada has been described as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe,” and UK officials believe he should be kept in prison for national security reasons. Qatada has never formally been charged with an offense, and he has been in and out of custody either in prison or some form of house arrest. He will again be released on house arrest.
In February 2009, a five-judge panel of the UK’s Law Lords ruled unanimously that Qatada could be deported [JURIST report] to Jordan despite fears he might be tortured upon his arrival. This decision overruled an April 2008 decision by the Court of Appeal blocking [JURIST report] deportation. Qatada was originally ordered deported [JURIST report] in February 2007. He was expected to be one of the first terror suspects to be deported under the UK’s 2005 extradition oversight agreement [JURIST report] with Jordan.