Abu Qatada released from jail

Updated 14 November 2012
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Abu Qatada released from jail

LONDON: A Islamist cleric described by prosecutors as a key Al-Qaeda operative in Europe was freed from prison yesteday after a court ruled he cannot be deported from Britain to Jordan to face terrorism charges. The preacher was seen smiling as he was driven away from Long Lartin maximum security jail in Worcestershire, central England, in a black MPV.
Britain’s government has attempted since 2001 to expel Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-born Jordanian cleric convicted in Jordan over terror plots in 1999 and 2000, but has been repeatedly thwarted by European and British courts.
Abu Qatada won bail at a hearing Monday, when the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which handles major terrorism and deportation cases, upheld his challenge to the decision to send him to Jordan.
Judge John Mitting said he was not convinced the cleric would receive a fair trial, despite the government’s insistence that it has won assurances from Jordan over how Abu Qatada’s case would be handled — including from Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Mitting said there remained a real risk that evidence obtained through torture would be used against Abu Qatada, which would be a breach of his human rights.
Under the terms of his bail, Mitting said, the cleric must observe a 16-hour curfew, wear an electronic anklet, cannot use the Internet and is barred from contacting certain people.
Britain’s government has said it will appeal against Mitting’s ruling, arguing that he applied the wrong criteria in making his decision.
“We are going to challenge it, we are going to take it to appeal. We are absolutely determined to see this man get on a plane and go back to Jordan. He does not belong here,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told ITV television yesterday.
Abu Qatada has previously been described in courts in Britain and Spain as a senior Al-Qaeda figure in Europe who had close ties to the late Osama Bin Laden.
He is accused by Britain of links with Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and with shoe bomber Richard Reid. Audio recordings of some of the cleric’s sermons were found in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, used by some of the Sept. 11 hijackers.


Thai court grants bail to detained pro-democracy activists

Police have charged each activist with several offenses, including violating a ban on political assembly and obstructing officials. (AP)
Updated 17 min 31 sec ago
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Thai court grants bail to detained pro-democracy activists

  • The activists were arrested Tuesday at a protest marking the anniversary of a 2014 military coup and calling for elections this year

BANGKOK: A court in Thailand granted bail Thursday to 15 pro-democracy activists who were arrested earlier this week during a protest against military rule at which several thousand police were deployed.
Krisadang Nutjaras, a lawyer for the student activists, told reporters they applied for bail after the court agreed to a police request for a further 12 days’ detention. It was set at 100,000 baht ($3,100) for each person, he said.
Police have charged each activist with several offenses, including violating a ban on political assembly and obstructing officials. They are required to report back to authorities in eight days and their bail is conditional on not participating in illegal political demonstrations.
The activists, who were arrested Tuesday at a protest marking the anniversary of a 2014 military coup and calling for elections this year, were applauded by supporters as they walked out of the Bangkok Criminal Court complex.
“Only barbaric countries say elections are illegal,” a 25-year-old protest leader, Rangsiman Rome, said outside the court. “Thank you everyone for coming. Today will not be the last day for our fight.”
Documents that police submitted to the court argued that bail should be denied because of the seriousness of the offenses. They also said they needed more time to complete their investigation.
Krisadang accused police of filing “excessive charges” against the protesters. He also criticized the court for refusing to hear counterarguments when it considered the request for detention to be extended.
“We never got a chance to present our reasoning to show the court that the kids are people who love democracy,” he said. “If in our country people use their rights to ask for democracy and get arrested and deemed traitors that cause havoc, there is not much hope left.”
Tuesday’s protest drew about 200 demonstrators but was met with an overwhelming security response. More than 3,000 officers were deployed to prevent the activists from marching from a Bangkok university campus to Government House.
The protesters, mainly middle-aged and elderly people led by a core of student activists, have been holding regular rallies for the last few months, calling for the junta to resign. Political gatherings of five or more people are banned by the military government.