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Smiling Abu Qatada is released from prison

Terror suspect Abu Qatada won a battle to stay in the UK. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire Terror suspect Abu Qatada won a battle to stay in the UK. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
12:13 PM

Terror suspect Abu Qatada was released from jail today after winning the latest round in his battle against deportation to Jordan.

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Home Secretary Theresa May was angry at the ruling when she appeared in the Commons yesterday. Picture: PA/PA WireHome Secretary Theresa May was angry at the ruling when she appeared in the Commons yesterday. Picture: PA/PA Wire

Qatada was driven away from the maximum security prison Long Lartin in Worcestershire in a black Volkswagen people carrier.

The radical cleric, who was sitting in the back of the vehicle, made no attempt to hide from waiting cameras and looked to be smiling.

Judges yesterday approved his appeal against extradition to Jordan to stand trial on terror offences. He is now on bail.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) said yesterday that despite assurances from the country, it could not be sure that evidence from witnesses who had been tortured would not be included in a retrial in his homeland.

One of Qatada’s neighbours said he had only ever seen him twice, when he was praying at home.

He said: “If I didn’t know about this (the terrorism allegations) I might have knocked on his door. But when I came to know, (I thought) no way.”

When asked what he felt about the large pack of photographers waiting outside, he replied: “It’s very annoying for the whole community.

“My daughter and wife can’t come out when it’s this situation.”

Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “The Home Office will be ensuring that we take all the steps necessary to ensure that Qatada does not present a risk to national security.”

The spokesman confirmed that the Government believes yesterday’s tribunal ruling was based on the application of the wrong legal test.

He said that the issue will be raised in future discussions with the Jordanian authorities.

“We had received a number of assurances from the Jordanian government - they had even changed their constitution,” said the spokesman. “As the Home Secretary said, we will be appealing the judgment.

“We believe that we have got the right assurances from the Jordanian government.”

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