Radical preacher Abu Qatada has been cleared of terrorism charges in Jordan and will be set free.
The findings of the jury at Jordan’s state security court in a military base in Amman will come as a blow to British authorities that fought a protracted eight-year legal battle to extradite Qatada to Jordan for his alleged involvement in a foiled bomb plot in 2000 that targeted Western tourists during the country’s Millennium celebrations.
The Home Office were finally able to deport Qatada last July after a “memorandum of understanding” was signed between the UK and Jordan, where Jordan pledged that evidence obtained through torture would not be used in the trial.
The cleric had been convicted in Jordan for his alleged involvement in the plot by trial in absentia, but managed to avoid a prison term after he was granted asylum in the UK. However, in 2002 he was detained on terrorism charges and stripped of his refugee status, and then began the the lengthy deportation process, which cost the British taxpayer £1.7 million.
The preacher’s acquittal comes after he was found not guilty last year of conspiring to bomb locations in Jordan in 1998.
While Qatada will be soon freed from prison, he will not return to Britain as he does not hold a British passport and the Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he would be barred from entry. He is also subject to a United Nations travel ban.