Timeline of Abu Qatada's battle with British authorities

7th July 2013, Comments 0 comments

Key dates in the saga of the radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada, who was deported to Jordan on Sunday after a long legal battle with British authorities.

- 1993: Abu Qatada, a Jordanian citizen, arrives in Britain with a false passport, and is in 1998 granted political asylum on the grounds that he was allegedly tortured in Jordan.

- 1998: Jordanian court convicts him in his absence on charges of helping to plot terrorist attacks against Western and Israeli targets in Amman. Some of the other people convicted in the same case claim their confessions were obtained under torture. Sentenced to death but commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour.

-- 2000: Convicted of plotting to carry out terror attacks on tourists during the millennium celebrations in Jordan and sentenced to 15 years jail.

- 2001: After the September 11 attacks on the United States, videos of Abu Qatada's radical sermons are found in an apartment in the German city of Hamburg that had been occupied by the Al-Qaeda cell that planned them. The British government strips him of his political refugee status.

- 2002: Abu Qatada is incarcerated in the high-security Belmarsh jail under anti-terror laws that allow indefinite detention without trial.

- March 2005: He is freed after indefinite detention for terror suspects is repealed. In August, after Islamist bombings that kill 56 people on the London public transport system, he is detained again, on immigration charges.

In the same year, the British government agrees to seek Abu Qatada's extradition to Jordan.

- June 2008: He is again released on strict conditions, only to be re-arrested in December.

- February 2009: The House of Lords, acting as Britain's highest court, approves Abu Qatada's extradition to Jordan.

- April 2012: He is arrested at his London home prior to an expected extradition. The following day, the European Court of Human Rights rules he cannot be deported while there was a "real risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him" in a possible retrial.

- May 2012: The European Court nevertheless refuses to hear Abu Qatada's appeal against British efforts to expel him. This opens the way for the process to go ahead.

- November 2012: An immigration appeal court orders Abu Qatada to be released under strict conditions, reiterating the view that he should not be extradited because of the torture problem. He is released the following day.

- March 2013: Abu Qatada is sent back to jail after a judge rules that he breached bail conditions banning him from having mobile phones and digital media devices in his house.

- April 2013: British Home Secretary Theresa May announces the signing of a legal agreement with Jordan guaranteeing that evidence obtained through torture will not be used in any retrial, after the courts again reject the government's bid to deport Abu Qatada.

- May 10, 2013: Lawyers for Abu Qatada say he will return to Jordan voluntarily if its parliament ratifies the treaty. Ten days later, he is denied bail.

- June 12, 2013: Jordanian MPs approve the treaty, followed by Britain on June 21.

- July 3: Jordan says Abu Qatada will be deported on July 7.

- July 7: Abu Qatada taken in police convoy from prison in London to airbase and flown out on a privately chartered jet.

© 2013 AFP

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