Hardline Arab-Israeli imam granted bail in Britain

16th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A controversial Arab-Israeli Islamist leader, Sheikh Raed Saleh, was granted bail by a British court Friday pending the outcome of his legal challenge against efforts by the government to deport him.

Saleh, 52, was detained in London last month on the orders of Home Secretary Theresa May for entering Britain despite a government ban.

His lawyers said that Saleh, the head of the radical northern wing of Israel's Islamic Movement, had no idea he was subject to an exclusion order.

At the High Court on Friday, judge Nicholas Stadlen granted Saleh bail on condition that he wear an electronic tag, observe a night-time curfew, report daily to immigration officials and stay at the home of a friend in London.

He said he would not be released until late Monday, to give government officials time to carry out checks on the bail address.

The judge also banned Saleh from "public speaking" and any activity which might "ferment" terrorism or criminal activity.

Two of Saleh's supporters have put up sureties totalling £30,000 (34,000 euros, $48,000), the court heard.

Lawyers for Britain's Home Office had opposed the bail application, and they said they would seek to appeal against the ruling on Monday.

Saleh was arrested in London on June 28, the day before he was due to speak at an event in the House of Commons organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), one of several planned during his ten-day trip.

The court heard that the Home Office had made an order excluding him from Britain on June 23, and an internal investigation is now underway as to how he managed to get through border controls.

The judge meanwhile said Saleh had a "good arguable case" to support his claim for a judicial review of the decision to detain him, adding that any hearing would probably take place in September.

Saleh has had multiple run-ins with the law in Israel, including most recently being arrested at the border with Jordan after allegedly striking an interrogator.

In 2010, he spent five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman, and he has been detained several other times, including in connection with an alleged arson incident.

He was also held after taking part in the Gaza Strip-bound aid flotilla which Israeli naval commandos stormed on May 31, 2010 in an operation that killed nine Turkish activists.

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its perceived links with the Palestinian militant Hamas movement that controls Gaza, as well as with other Islamist groups worldwide.

© 2011 AFP

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