British judge orders release on bail of radical cleric

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A British judge on Monday ordered the release on bail of radical cleric Abu Qatada, allegedly a former top aide of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, despite government concerns he poses a security risk. The British Interior Ministry condemned the decision, saying the 51-year-old is “a dangerous man who we believe poses a real threat to our security and who has not changed in his views or attitude to the UK.”
Britain has been trying to deport Qatada to Jordan for the past six years but its efforts were blocked last month by the European Court of Human Rights, which said evidence against him may have been obtained through torture. Following the European ruling, Qatada applied to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in Britain to be released from the high-security Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire, central England. Lawyer Ed Fitzgerald told the commission that Qatada’s detention for six and a half years while fighting deportation “has now gone on for too long to be reasonable or lawful”.