14 Feb 2012

Abu Qatada bailed under strict conditions

10:08 pm on 14 February 2012

A radical Muslim cleric accused by British officials of being a leading member of al- Qaeda has been released from prison on bail.

Abu Qatada had been held in Britain for more than six years, pending attempts to deport him to Jordan.

He was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement in a terror plot.

But the deportation has been blocked by the European Court of Human Rights, for fear he will not receive a fair trial there.

He was seen hiding his face in the back of a van which left Long Lartin top-security jail in Evesham, Worcestershire, reports the BBC.

The 51-year-old cleric has been described by a Spanish judge as the "spiritual head of the mujahideen in Britain".

The UK authorities allege he gave advice to those who aimed "to engage in terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings".

They says he has also featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the 11 September bombers.

The BBC reports Abu Qatada will live under some of the strictest bail restrictions under English law.

He is under a 22-hour curfew that only allows him to leave home for a maximum of an hour twice a day. He has also been electronically tagged.

He is banned from attending a mosque, leading prayers, publishing any statement, or meeting any of 27 named individuals. Use of a mobile phone or the internet is also prohibited.

He cannot use the internet or a mobile phone, and will be handed a map of his neighbourhood, showing a boundary in thick ink around the streets near his home.

He will not even be able to take his children to school.