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Britain deports radical cleric Qatada to Jordan

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada has returned to Jordan after being deported by Britain. His transfer to Jordan ends a decade-long court battle on whether he would be subjected to torture.

Britain on Sunday deported the West Bank-born Islamist preacher Abu Qatada to Jordan. British and European courts had blocked the transfer until last month when Britain and Jordan agreed that Qatada would not face torture in Jordan.

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Qatada lands in Jordan

Abu Qatada was wanted in Jordan for retrial over several alleged attacks for which he was tried in absentia. In 2000, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for plotting to carry out attacks on tourists in Jordan, but - under Jordanian law - has the right to a retrial while present in person.

Having arrived in Jordan, Abu Qatada was charged with terrorist offences by Jordanian military prosecutors. The cleric pleaded not guilty.

"He was remanded in judicial custody for 15 days in the Muwaqqar prison," in eastern Jordan, an official told the AFP news agency.

The radical cleric has been in and out of British prisons since 2002. London had first tried to deport him in 2005.

In 2012, the European Union Court of Human Rights overturned a British court ruling to deport. It was one of a series of court interventions on the grounds that evidence might be used against him that had been obtained by torture.

Jordan is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, but reports persist that security services allegedly used physical abuse in Jordanian prisons.

Last month there were protests in Jordan's southern city of Maan after the death of a citizen in custody.

Put on aircraft near London

Television pictures showed Abu Qatada boarding an aircraft at a Royal Air Force based in west London after being transferred from the high security Belmarsh jail in southeast London. British Home Secretary Theresa May said early on Sunday that a "dangerous man" had been removed.

Abu Qatada's wife and five children are expected to remain in Britain, where he first came in 1993, seeking asylum.

Abu Qatada denies ever having met the slain al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden.

ipj/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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