Abu Qatada finally leaves Britain

Abu Qatada finally leaves Britain

A police van carrying radical cleric Abu Qatada arrives at RAF Northolt (AP/Sang Tan)

Abu Qatada has been flown out of Britain

First published in National News © by

Abu Qatada has left Britain after a near decade-long battle to get him out of the country.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Abu Qatada was deported to his home country of Jordan to face terrorism charges. His departure marks the conclusion of efforts to remove him since 2001 and I believe this will be welcomed by the British public."

After spending at least £1.7 million on trying to eject the terror suspect from its shores, the Home Office finally saw him board a private flight bound for Jordan at RAF Northolt, in west London, at around 2.45am.

Mrs May added: "I am glad that this government's determination to see him on a plane has been vindicated and that we have at last achieved what previous governments, Parliament and the British public have long called for.

"This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country. I am also clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport. We are taking steps - including through the new Immigration Bill - to put this right."

Following numerous courtroom battles, it was a treaty signed between the UK and Jordan that finally secured Qatada's departure, giving the radical preacher the assurances he needed to leave his taxpayer-funded home behind.

The agreement, announced by the Home Secretary earlier this year, aimed to allay fears that evidence extracted through torture will be used against the father of five at a retrial. In a shock decision, Qatada pledged in May to leave Britain - with his family in tow - if and when the treaty was fully ratified, a process that to the relief of many, concluded earlier this week.

Once dubbed Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, Qatada spent his final months in the UK in Belmarsh prison, after breaching a bail condition which restricted use of mobile phones and other communication devices.

The Government has been trying to deport him to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, for about eight years. But Qatada - who has praised the September 11 terror attacks - repeatedly used human rights laws to avoid removal.

When Qatada returns to Jordan, it has been reported that he will be taken to the maximum security Muwaqqar prison in a military zone near the capital Amman.

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