Jordan court clears Abu Qatada of bomb plot charges, orders his release

Story highlights

  • Abu Qatada will not be able to return to the United Kingdom, Home Office says
  • The cleric is acquitted of plotting to bomb millennium celebrations in Jordan
  • His immediate release is ordered if no other cases are raised, newspaper says
  • He was deported from Britain last year after a legal battle lasting years
A court in Jordan acquitted radical preacher Abu Qatada of charges of plotting to bomb millennium celebrations in Jordan in 2000, semi-state owned newspaper Addustour reported Wednesday.
The court ordered his immediate release if no other cases are raised against him, the newspaper said.
Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, was cleared in July of charges of conspiracy to bomb a U.S. school in Jordan in the late 1990s, state media reported.
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.
Home Office: He's not coming back
Following the news of his acquittal, a Home Office spokesman told CNN that Abu Qatada would not be returning to Britain.
"Abu Qatada's retrial in Jordan was made possible thanks to this government's determination to successfully deport him from the UK to face the courts in his own country," he said.
"It is right that the due process of law has taken place in Jordan. The UK courts agreed that Abu Qatada posed a threat to national security in the UK, so we are pleased that we were able to remove him.
"Abu Qatada remains subject to a deportation order and a United Nations travel ban. He is not coming back to the UK."
Torture fears
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 had 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.