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UK loses latest attempt to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada

By Laura Smith-Spark and Andrew Carey, CNN
updated 8:40 PM EDT, Wed March 27, 2013
Muslim Cleric Abu Qatada arrives home after being released from prison on November 13 in London, England.
Muslim Cleric Abu Qatada arrives home after being released from prison on November 13 in London, England.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • British government loses its latest bid to deport Abu Qatada, also known as Omar Othman
  • Home Secretary Theresa May has until April 17 to appeal the ruling
  • The radical cleric is accused of funding terrorist groups and inspiring one of the 9/11 hijackers
  • Abu Qatada denies the allegations against him and has long fought his deportation to Jordan

London (CNN) -- Try as it might, the British government just can't seem to get radical cleric Abu Qatada out of the UK.

The government lost another round Wednesday in its long-running attempt to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan.

The Court of Appeal in London denied the government's attempt to overturn a different panel's decision to keep Abu Qatada -- accused of raising money for terrorist groups and inspiring one of the 9/11 hijackers -- in Britain.

Home Secretary Theresa May has until April 17 to appeal the latest ruling.

"This is not the end of the road. Government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada," the official UK Home Office Twitter feed said.

Cleric case raises rights questions
Radical cleric Abu Qatada legal battles

"We will consider the judgment on Abu Qatada carefully and plan to seek leave to appeal.

"In the meantime we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing Abu Qatada's deportation."

A Jordanian national, Abu Qatada is wanted in his home country and has been been tried and convicted in absentia on two charges of conspiracy to cause explosions, court documents say.

In January 2012, the European Court of Human Rights blocked Britain from sending him to Jordan because of fears that evidence obtained by torture could be used against him at the trial planned by the Middle Eastern country.

The Home Secretary decided last April that assurances given by the Jordanian government had eliminated that risk and ordered that his deportation go ahead.

But Abu Qatada appealed to the UK's Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which found in November that "there still existed a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice."

The Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that May's appeal against that SIAC ruling was not justified.

UK authorities accuse Abu Qatada of raising funds for terrorist groups, including organizations linked to the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and say he has publicly supported the violent activities of those groups.

Videos of his preaching were found in a German apartment used by some of those involved in the 9/11 attacks on the United States, including ringleader Mohammed Atta.

Abu Qatada has denied the allegations against him.

Also known as Omar Othman, Abu Qatada arrived in the United Kingdom in 1993 and applied for asylum on the grounds that he had been tortured by Jordanian authorities. He came to Britain on a forged United Arab Emirates passport, according to court documents, and claimed asylum for himself, his wife and their three children.

Britain has been trying to deport Abu Qatada since 2005, but his legal appeals have kept him in the country.

He was ordered back to prison earlier this month after evidence suggested he had violated his bail conditions. These include an order that prohibits him from allowing cell phones to be turned on in his house, and a ban on devices such as rewritable CDs and flash drives.

CNN's Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this report.

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