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Jordan acquits radical cleric Abu Qatada of terror conspiracy charges

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 9:34 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Radical cleric Abu Qatada prepares to board a plane which will take him to Jordan, after he was deported from the UK to face terrorism charges in his home country, on July 7 in London, England. Radical cleric Abu Qatada prepares to board a plane which will take him to Jordan, after he was deported from the UK to face terrorism charges in his home country, on July 7 in London, England.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The radical cleric was deported from the United Kingdom last year
  • He also faces charges linked to a 2000 attempt to bomb millennium celebrations in Jordan
  • Videos of his sermons were found in an apartment used by some involved in 9/11 attacks

(CNN) -- A Jordanian court Thursday acquitted radical cleric Abu Qatada of charges of conspiracy to bomb an American school in the late 1990s, state media reported.

Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, was also charged with a 2000 attempt to bomb millennium celebrations in Jordan. He will remain in jail pending a verdict on that case, according to Petra news agency.

It did not say why he was found not guilty in the American school case.

The cleric was deported from the United Kingdom last year, ending a years-long legal battle to force him to leave the country.

A Jordanian national, he was wanted in his home country, where he had been convicted in absentia on two charges of conspiracy to cause explosions.

Britain had been trying to deport him since 2001, but his legal appeals kept him there until last year.

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

British authorities said he raised funds for terrorist groups, including organizations linked to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and publicly supported militants' violent activities.

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.

He arrived in the UK 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.

CNN's Ali Younes contributed to this report

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